California - AB485
Pet store operators: dogs, cats, and rabbits.
February 13, 2017
AB 485 will amend current California law to require all dogs, cats, and rabbits offered for sale to be obtained solely from public and private rescue, and not from breeders. Pet shops would be required to obtain dogs from the unregulated source of rescue and shelters, where dogs are transported and relocated without any oversight, licensure, or inspections. There have been countless cases of relocated rescue dogs from unknown sources with extremely contagious diseases, some even transmittable to humans, such as canine influenza, brucellosis, and even RABIES. This bill gives unbalanced preference to unregulated rescue channels as a source for pet shops over commercial breeders that are inspected, licensed, and have a platform for consumer protection through complaints. None of these levels of consumer protection exists in the realm of rescues.
Rescue relocation exists because the number of dogs in shelters in many parts of the country are so low that relocation is keeping shelters going. Should this bill become law it will undoubtedly greatly increase the number of rescue dogs from unknown sources, particularly outside of the country, being channeled into the state of California, at great risk to public health. California has already had a HUGE influx of dogs coming in from Mexico and this will only open that channel more. Rescue relocation is the real issue that needs regulation here, NOT further regulation for breeders.
Making it even more unreasonable, this bill would require pet shops to essentially become shelters and rescues, but they will not enjoy the same unfettered deregulation that shelters and rescues do. Pet shops will still be pet shops required to adhere to all the special requirements under law, including the Lockyer-Polanco-Farr Pet Protection Act, California’s lemon law. Pet shops will be legally and financially responsible for sick pets sold while shelters and rescues are off the hook for the same animals. This is not only patently unfair but gives shelters and rescues a step-up and advantage in the marketplace. Nor is it fair to consumers to be sold sick dogs with no recourse. How can an action be legal for one entity while precisely the same action holds consequences under the law for another entity?
Not only will this bill open the door for more unregulated animals on the market overall, it will also greatly decrease the availability and choice of purebred dogs for California residents looking for a pet dog. Consumers should have the right to choose their pet, whether it be from a responsible breeder, a pet store that selects dogs from inspected and licensed breeders, or from a shelter or rescue. It is not the legislature’s place to make that choice for them. Removing pet shops as a viable source for purpose bred pets will send more consumers looking for particular breeds to underground sources. Forcing pet shops to purchase dogs only from rescue sources not only wrongfully limits consumer choices, but will also unnecessarily and potentially unconstitutionally regulate otherwise legal pet shops out of business, which is simply un-American.
**AB 485 was amended by the authors to require that the pet store post a sign on the cage or enclosure of each animal offered for sale a sign that names the public animal control agency or shelter, SPCA shelter, humane society shelter, or nonprofit from which the animal was obtained. This doesn’t disclose much to the consumer if the animal was first obtained by the rescue or agency from another country or state, and because of that is in fact misleading to consumers. Amendments also add $500 fine per animal for stores that violate the law.
***AB 485 was further amended to require pet stores to provide access to records of source of animals to public animal control agencies or shelters. However, no such access for pet stores to enquire as to where the animals they are required to sell come from is granted. Another amendment prohibits rescue groups from obtaining animals from “breeders or brokers for compensation,” which is actually a legitimate occurrence. While the intent of the amendment is meant to target pet stores from getting around this bill, the authors probably do not realize that some rescues DO obtain from breeders and brokers in order to keep their sales up.
*****AB 485 was amended yet again to remove the absurdity of requiring pet stores to warrant the same animals that shelters and rescues have zero accountability for. However, pet stores are still required to ensure animals they take in are not sick and must maintain health and disposition records.