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California State Assembly bill would ban pet stores from doing business with puppy mills

A puppy waits at an adoption event in Miami.
A puppy waits at an adoption event in Miami.
Wilfredo Lee/AP

New legislation on its way to the California Senate would require pet stores to only sell dogs, cats and rabbits obtained from a shelter or other non-profits.

At the heart of AB 485, which passed the State Assembly Tuesday, is the goal of ending so-called puppy mills and other large scale breeding operations that have been charged with unsafe and unsanitary conditions.

Assemblyman Patrick O'Donnell hopes the measure will discourage people from breeding them this way.

"I think the ultimate goal is to stop the puppy mills that are breeding animals, thousands of them in the Midwest, and then shipping them to California for sale and for profit, wherein at the same time we have thousands of animals that sit in shelters that go without a loving home.”

The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, which includes big chains like Petco, opposes the bill.

"Banning non-rescue, non-shelter pet sales of cats, rabbits, and dogs could close pet stores across the state," said PIJAC President and CEO Mike Bober. "This is going to simultaneously put hundreds of people out of work and reduce the state's protections for prospective pet owners."

He says the ban would do little to discourage puppy mills, citing that few people actually get their pets from pet stores.

The bill received bi-partisan support and builds on the work of the 33 cities and counties in California that have already banned the sale of such animals at pet stores.

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