By 2019, it will be illegal for pet stores in California to sell animals that come from puppy mills. This is the first law of its kind in the US.
Cute, innocent puppies in pet stores may have a dark past.
There’s a reason why animal advocates often implore would-be pet owners to “adopt, don’t shop”. If you’ve been to a pet store before, then you’ve probably been tempted to spend on liberating cute, seemingly docile puppies from their cramped cages. However, if you do buy a pet from a pet store, you’ll likely be supporting a cruel, inhumane industry.
Many pet stores get the animals they sell from puppy mills. A puppy mill is a for-profit breeding facility that, predictably, puts financial gain over the well-being of the animals.
According to California Governor Jerry Brown, anyone selling animals like dogs, cats, rabbits from mills could face a fine of up to $500. With any luck, this will deter unscrupulous breeders from exploiting animals for their own financial gains.
Dogs in puppy mills are often kept in horrible conditions [Photo by the ASPCA]
What’s so bad about a puppy mill, anyway? For one thing, many of them keep dogs in overcrowded, unsanitary, and cruel conditions. Females are often made to bear one brood after the other so the breeders can earn as much as they can. This, of course, is unhealthy for the dog and not to her best interests. Once females can no longer bear puppies, some breeders can choose to have them killed.
The basic thing to remember about these mills is that profits trump all else. As a result, the animals bred in these places may have genetic defects or other health problems. After all, many of these breeders don’t breed for genetic quality. Thus, puppies may be born with heart and respiratory conditions. The puppies may then go to the pet stores with these untreated conditions.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), there is no legal definition of what a puppy mill is. Thus, if you buy an animal from a pet store, you can’t be sure if the animal came from a mill or not. Some pet stores may claim to source their animals from reputable breeders, but there are still those who actually buy animals from inhumane puppy mills.
ASPCA volunteers rescue a dogs from a puppy mill in Florida. [Photo by the ASPCA]
Even in death, many breeders don’t treat the animals they profit from properly. According to a 2013 report by the Humane Society of the United States, a number of breeders dispose of animal carcasses in ways that violate environmental laws. One breeder apparently even improperly disposed of 200 pounds of dead animals per month.
Under California’s new law, pet stores will have to work with shelters, rescue groups, and legal and humane breeders if they want to be able to sell certain animals. Hopefully, this law will be successful in shutting down puppy mills and in encouraging other jurisdictions to adopt a similar stance.
Thus, if you’re planning on getting a pet sometime soon, don’t wait for California’s new law to take effect. You always have the option of getting a pet from a shelter or a rescue organization instead of a pet store. If, however, you choose to buy a companion animal, then you can always take the time to research which breeders are ethical and reputable and which are not.
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