Legislation Affecting Pet Stores Elicits Opposing Opinions

by Barbara Murray

Puppies that have been playing in sandKudos to the California lawmakers! The state has become the first in the nation to outlaw pet store sales of puppies, kittens and rabbits from breeders. California's law came about because of the predominant number of baby animals for sale in pet stores that come from puppy mills, kitten factories, and breeders just looking to make a buck.

I've written previously on puppy mills and if you don't know what these operations entail, I strongly suggest you do a bit of research before considering "purchasing" a new pet. It's horrendous, to say the least.

California is not banning the sale of these animals outright. Stipulations in the law allow pet stores ample leeway in selling animals that come from humane societies, legitimate animal rescue organizations and shelters. That's perfect, in my opinion.

Pardon the legalese; this is my favorite paragraph of the new California law:

122354.5. (a) A pet store operator shall not sell a live dog, cat, or rabbit in a pet store unless the dog, cat, or rabbit was obtained from a public animal control agency or shelter, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals shelter, humane society shelter, or rescue group that is in a cooperative agreement with at least one private or public shelter pursuant to Section 31108, 31752, or 31753 of the Food and Agricultural Code.

Why can't we do this nationwide?

New Jersey's state legislature tried to pass a law in May 2017 that would prevent pet stores and breeders from purchasing puppies from puppy mills. Governor Chris Christie refused to sign it, saying it "went too far." His concern, so he said, was that the law contained a three-strikes-you're-out measure that could put pet stores out of business.

Okay, if a pet store gets caught buying from a puppy mill THREE times, shouldn't they be forced out of business? I certainly think so.

A New York Times article on the California law stated that opponents to the bill argued that the law "painted large 'puppy mills' and responsible backyard dog breeders with the same broad brush."

My response is "and?"

Yes, the living conditions for animals in a puppy mill as compared to the facilities of a "responsible backyard breeder" may be quite different. However, when you take a good look at what the animals in a breeding operation are put through, especially the females, there's no justification for this what-so-ever, in my opinion.

For example, I recently read about the process that French Bulldogs go through in order to produce pups. Keep in mind that breeders see nothing wrong with this and tout this as "responsible" breeding. In a so-called responsible breeding operation, all the pregnant females undergo cesarean sections because so many cannot give birth naturally due to their size. This is a major operation, whether it's a human or an animal undergoing the procedure. Because of the C-section, the mother then cannot nurse the pups so each must be bottle-fed.

The majority, more than 80 percent, of French bulldogs, Boston terriers and bulldogs, come into the world this way, according to a U.K. study published a few years ago in the Journal of Small Animal Practice. Several other toy-size dog breeds also must go through a C-section to birth pups. Now how many puppy mills do you suppose goes through the lengthy and expensive process of caring for the mother until she recuperates from surgery?

Personally, I think it's outrageous to force a dog to go through this major surgery and call it "responsible." Breeders do it because there's a market for them.

I know there is nothing cuter and more precious in this world than a tiny pup. I love and want to keep them all anytime one crosses my path in this life. Yet, I need to remember every time I see one exactly where he or she likely came from.

California Legislative Information: Assembly Bill No. 485
Evans, K. M. and Adams, V. J. (2010), Proportion of litters of purebred dogs born by caesarean section. Journal of Small Animal Practice, 51: 113-118. doi:10.1111/j.1748-5827.2009.00902.x
NJ.com: Christie Rejects Bill Regulating Puppy Mills, Saying It Goes "Too Far"
The New York Times: California Tells Pet Store Their Dogs and Cats Must Be Rescues

Please Share