Letter to the Editor: It's about time California helps vulnerable animals

Dear Editor:

The same op-ed appearing in the Opinion section on Thursday, Oct. 19, appeared on the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) website on October 13, 2017, with a different name: “Pet Care Advocates: California Governor’s Signature Puts Businesses, Pet Lovers At Risk.” Note that the author of the original article and the PIJAC are both based in Washington D.C.

Closer to home are those of us that question how requiring pet stores to sell rescue animals will put small businesses at risk. Unless that risk is that they will be out of business because they purchase many of the dogs and cats they sell from puppy mills and kitten factories. 

AB 485 will go into effect in 2019 and will require pet store operators to obtain dogs, cats, and rabbits placed for retail sale in California from an animal shelter or rescue group. This law is consistent with over 230 other cities and counties nationwide that have implemented similar ordinances. In California, over 33 municipalities have such ordinances, including Los Angeles, Oceanside, San Francisco and Sacramento. 

The main goal of this law is to address puppy mills and kitten factories which are mostly located out-of-state in overcrowded and unsanitary facilities that do not provide the puppies, kittens, or their parents with adequate food, water, space, socialization or veterinary care. Unfortunately, pet stores are the primary retail type storefront used to sale these mass produced puppies and kittens to the public.

While pet stores will no longer be able to sell purebred dogs “with papers”, the law does not ban the sale of purebred dogs to California residents. If a California consumer wants a purebred dog, they will still be able to work directly with a reputable breeder.

The ASPCA’s shelter intake and surrender statistics indicate that only 37% of dogs and cats currently come from breeders while 54% of dogs and cats come from animal shelters or rescue groups. While impossible to accurately calculate, it is estimated that as many as 25% of dogs that are available in shelters are purebred dogs (without papers).

The ASPCA estimates that nationwide, there are 6.5 million companion animals that enter U.S. animal shelters every year. Over 1.5 million of these animals are euthanized, and about 3.2 million are adopted.

Pet stores are going to have to rethink their business models and focus on working with rescue groups and animal shelters if they want to sell dogs, cats or rabbits. A legislative report indicates that, in California, taxpayers spend approximately a quarter of a billion dollars annually to house animals in local shelters.

It is about time that California started to rethink what is best for our most vulnerable and dearest companions.

India Griffin