California is ringing in the new year as the first state in the country to ban stores from selling dogs, cats and rabbits that aren’t rescues.
The stores must also give public animal control agencies and shelters periodic access to those records. Anyone found to violate the law would be subject to a $500 fine.
The law intends to promote the adoption of pets from shelters and to help stop supporting mass breeding facilities ― popularly known as “puppy mills” ― which often have deplorable and inhumane conditions.
“In many cases, puppy mills house animals in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions without adequate food, water, socialization or veterinary care,” a fact sheet for the legislation said. “As a result, animals bred in these facilities often face an array of health problems, including communicable diseases, behavioral issues and genetic disorders.”
The public will still be allowed to purchase dogs, cats and rabbits directly from private breeders.
The bill, A.B. 485, received strong support from animal welfare organizations like the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society of the United States. According to the ASPCA, an estimated 1.5 million animals were euthanized in shelters in the U.S. in 2016.