OP-ED: Requiring pet stores to sell rescue animals put small businesses at risk

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Two of America’s largest pet care associations, a California breeder association, and a California pet store owner said California Governor Jerry Brown put small businesses at risk this weekend with his signature of Assembly Bill 485.

AB 485 implements a statewide ban on the sale of non-rescue, non-shelter dogs, cats, and rabbits from pet stores.

“Assembly Bill 485 reverses California’s tradition of leading the nation in pet and consumer protections,” said Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) President Mike Bober, who in a video release in September urged Brown to veto AB 485. “It also strips consumers of many pet store protections, risks hundreds of jobs, and reduces pet choice.”

American Kennel Club (AKC) vice president of government relations, Sheila Goffe, said that AB 485 “fails to distinguish between professional breeders and pet profiteers.”

“AB 485 blocks all of California’s pet lovers from having access to professional, licensed, and ethical commercial breeders,” said Goffe. “This is not good for Californians or their companion animals.”

Bober said the amendment, which exempted pet stores from warranty laws, consumer information requirements, fines, and other important regulations, left consumers without proper protections.

“Governor Brown regretfully did not recognize the harm AB 485 will do to his constituents, including the many stores, breeders, and business associations across the Golden State that contacted him,” said Bober and Goffe.

Stormy Hope, Secretary of the Southern California Kennel Owners and Breeders Association, joined in the concern for California’s pets and their purchasers. “The enactment of AB 485 represents a troublesome new reality for California’s pet owners. Their choices will be limited to pets from unknown sources, with unsubstantiated health backgrounds, and without consumer protections.” 

Animal Kingdom founder Adam Tipton, whose three stores employ 26 people, has been a California small business owner since 1995. He said Brown’s signature endangers “not just my employees, but also my customers.”

“Animal Kingdom has had thousands of customers from all over California, other states, and even other countries come to us because of our professionalism and animal care practices,” said Tipton. “For 22 years, our focus has been to choose happy & healthy pets for our customers. AB 485’s ban will leave us without a ready supply of pets.”

According to Tipton, “The public has been put at great risk by the false information that was used to pass this law. Our relationships with breeders mean we know exactly what pets are going to our customers; by targeting California’s pet stores, this law will allow unregulated breeders to flourish as customers find other sources for their pets. AB 485 risks customers’ ability to get the best pet for their circumstances.”