Beginning in January 2019, California pet stores will only be able to sell puppies, rabbits, and kittens they obtain from animal shelters and rescue centers. If they don’t, they’ll face a $500 fine.
California residents will still have the option to purchase their pets from individual breeders, according to The New York Times.
Though California is the first state to pass this kind of legislation, it is following a precedent set by many of its cities and counties, which have enacted similar regulations.
But pet store owners fear the law will threaten their already-struggling businesses.
“Their heart is in the right place, but their thinking is a little shortsighted,” pet store owner Boris Jang told The New York Times. While he gets about half of the dogs he sells from shelters or rescue centers, he fears the law will make him unable to pay his lease.
Mike Bober, president of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, expressed similar feelings toward the law, saying it is “well-intentioned but misguided” in a recent video. He also believes the law could threaten the jobs of pet store owners and their employees.
The law received support from animal welfare activists, who have long been concerned about the conditions animals face before being sold to pet stores. A fact sheet written by the California legislature claimed that “in many cases, puppy mills house animals in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions without adequate food, water, socialization or veterinary care,” and that animals raised in these conditions “often face an array of health problems.”
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals echoed this sentiment in a recent post on its blog, writing: “This law demonstrates how legislative action on animal welfare in general can advance from the local level to the state level, furthering the hope of creating a culture that values compassion over cruelty.”