Anti-Puppy Mill Bill AB 485 Passes Latest CA Senate Commitee; Advances For Senate Floor Vote

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California Assembly Bill 485, the Pet Rescue and Adoption Act, passed the Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development yesterday by a vote of 7 to 1.

AB 485, authored by Assemblymembers Patrick O’Donnell and Matt Dababneh and sponsored by animal advocacy group, Social Compassion in Legislation, is a landmark bill that will ban the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits sourced from high-volume, commercial breeding facilities in all pet shops throughout the state. Instead, pet shops will be required to source animals from shelters and rescues. The bill picked up bipartisan support with both party’s members signing on as co-authors.

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“We are encouraged by the Committee’s vote today,” stated Judie Mancuso, founder and president of Social Compassion in Legislation. “As the testimony today made clear, AB 485 is a good bill for both businesses and the animals it will save. We are confident the members of the full Senate will agree and look forward to a vote on the floor.”

“The passage of AB 485 from the Senate Business and Professions Committee is a win for dogs, kittens and rabbits and a win for taxpayers. I thank the Committee members for recognizing the importance of the bill in giving animals in shelters a chance to find forever homes and saving taxpayer dollars in housing and euthanizing the animals,” said Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach).

“Despite opponents claims to the contrary, transitioning to an adoption-based model has proven to be successful for many business owners,” Andrew Kim, owner and CEO of Healthy Spot, a small pet store chain of 10 locations and 225 employees testified. “Healthy Spot is a not a nonprofit. I want to be clear that we are a business that believes in profits with principles. We have been thriving because of the approach we have taken and the support we have received from the community in doing so.”

“35 local jurisdictions across the state have passed ordinances similar to AB 485. Despite the success of these ordinances, a statewide law is still necessary,” Paul Koretz, Los Angeles City Councilmember and author of the Los Angeles ordinance that AB 485 is modeled after, stated in his testimony before the Committee today, “A key weakness in the jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction approach is the ability of law-breakers to pull up stakes and move to the next town over and continue victimizing animals and customers. It has happened, and AB 485 will help us combat that.”

While much of the testimony centered around the business of pet shops and how they would be affected by AB 485, advocates for the bill reminded committee members that the bill is also about the welfare of the animals. “It’s time to stop the shipping of puppy mill dogs, cats, and rabbits into California pet shops, treated as mere commodities by these poorly regulated breeders,” said Henry Brzezinski, Legislative Chair of the California Animal Control Directors Association.

In fact, violations of what little regulation of puppy mills exist are incredibly hard to find. On February 3, 2017, all information regarding inspection reports or access to lists of active licensees and registered breeder facilities was removed from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website. The same applies to enforcement actions regarding Animal Welfare Act violations. Those seeking information regarding inspection reports etc. must now submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for that information. Thus, it is nearly impossible for prospective pet owners to access the information needed to make informed choices in where these animals have come from and how they were treated before arriving in pet stores.

“Today signified an important step forward to ending the deplorable practices at puppy mills and ensuring all animals are treated humanely,” remarked Assemblymember Matt Dababneh. “I am grateful to partner with Social Compassion In Legislation to advance policy that will promote adoption and provide much needed protections for all pets.”

This legislation will replace high volume commercially bred animals by showcasing dogs, cats, and rabbits from local animal shelters and rescue groups in pet retail stores statewide. AB 485 will be a gigantic step forward in solving the state’s pet overpopulation crisis and will shut the door on cruel puppy mills from importing animals for sale into California.

AB 485 will now go to the floor of the Senate for a vote.

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