California Makes a Mess of Just About Everything, but They Got This Right

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©Scott Sheaffer, CDBC, CPDT-KA, USA Dog Behavior, LLC

"I’ve observed the AKC increasingly turn a blind eye to puppy-mills and the physical and behavior issues they cause."

There are probably a number of reasons why the population growth rate of California has continued to decline over the last 30 years (1). Excessive government regulation is one of the reasons that is frequently cited.

However, on October 13 California governor Jerry Brown and the California assembly got it right with a new regulatory change. On that date, governor Brown signed AB485 into law. AB485 makes amendments and additions to California state law that requires pet stores to source their dogs exclusively from animal shelters or animal rescue organizations. The law takes effect on January 1, 2019.

This will be a significant change for pet stores that sell puppies; they have historically purchased 100% of their puppy inventory from puppy-mills. For more information on puppy-mills, please see Puppy Mills 101 .

This may sound like a new idea to stem the number of puppy-mill puppies being bred across the US like livestock, but it isn’t. Thirty-six cities already have such laws; California is the first state to make it a state law.

Why is AB485 so important when it comes to animal welfare?

  • Puppy-mills have negatively impacted every breed of popular dog because they only breed for appearance with little to no regard for physical or behavioral health. For an example of what I’m talking about, please see German Shepherds are the Second Most Popular Dog in America. Why do you Rarely See Them in Public?
  • Puppy-mills raise dogs in such large numbers that supply grossly exceeds demand. Unwanted puppy-mill dogs are ultimately dumped into shelters by their owners in such large numbers that 670,000 dogs are euthanized at shelters each year in the US (2) . This law should significantly reduce the number of dogs being euthanized in California.
  • The breeding male and female dogs in puppy-mills are virtual prisoners-of-war. They're kept for years in horrible conditions with virtually no interaction with humans or dogs. The abusive way the breeding females are managed in order to pump out as many litters as possible is almost unspeakable. And guess what happens with these breeding male and female dogs when they are no longer “producers”? They are frequently euthanized or abandoned in a field. This law will hopefully reduce the amount of animal abuse found at puppy-mills.

Unfortunately, the AKC (American Kennel Club) is adamantly against AB485. You have to understand that the AKC’s very existence is predicated on breeders producing puppies.  California is not saying that breeders can’t breed puppies for sale; the new law simply specifies that pet stores can’t sell these dogs. Individuals can continue to buy directly from breeders if they wish. I’ve observed the AKC increasingly turn a blind eye to puppy-mills and the physical and behavior issues they cause. I’m bothered, but not surprised, that they don’t support this regulatory change.

I've always been a fan of rescuing dogs since so many are euthanized simply because of oversupply – primarily caused by puppy-mills. Until these regulations are instituted in your city or state – and hopefully they soon will be – please encourage your friends, family and co-workers to rescue a dog instead of purchasing from a pet store. For more information, please see Buying a Puppy Instead of Rescuing? Consider These 7 Facts Before You Do.

(1) First Tuesday Journal
(2) ASPCA estimate