New Law Will Require All Pet Shops In California To Only Sell Rescued Animals Starting January 1

The law has been hailed by animal rights groups.

Two dogs sit in a pet shop
Bussakorn Ewesakul / Shutterstock

The law has been hailed by animal rights groups.

Pet shops in the state of California will only be able to sell rescue animals starting January 1.

The state became the first in the United States to ban the sale of non-rescue animals in retail pet shops, and businesses that do not comply could face fines up $500. As the BBC reported, the new law will ban pet shops from selling dogs, cats, and rabbits that came from breeders, only allowing them to sell animals that come from shelters.

The law drew a major push from animal rights groups, which spoke out against breeder industries that could often lead to abuses of animals and problems with their long-term health due to poor health oversight. Others had criticized pet stores for feeding into the system, giving breeders an outlet to sell their animals and often concealing for pet buyers exactly where their animals were born and raised. Pet stores had no requirement to disclose the source of their animals, leaving buyers unable to check for themselves if the animals were raised under humane conditions.

The law now aims to give greater transparency for pet stores and for people buying animals. Under the new law, pet stores must maintain records to show the source of all dogs, cats, and rabbits for at least one year and to place the information conspicuously on each animal’s cage.

There were others opposed to the law, including the American Kennel Club, which claimed that it placed unnecessary restrictions on pet owners.

The bill originally passed in 2017, spearheaded by state representative Patrick O’Donnell. When the law passed, O’Donnell praised the measure as a more humane way to sell animals, one that keeps down unnecessary costs for euthanizing animals.

“This is a big win for our four-legged friends, of course,” O’Donnell said in a press release announcing the bill’s passage last year. “But also for California taxpayers who spend more than $250 million annually to house and euthanize animals in our shelters. I am very grateful for the strong support we received from animal-lovers across the state and from Social Compassion in Legislation, the bill’s sponsor.”

The new California pet shop law drew national attention, with many animal rights groups hoping it could become a template for other states to follow suit and place further restrictions on breeders that often operate with little oversight and widespread abuses in the name of generating a quantity of animals rather than focusing on quality.