Assembly Bill 485 can give shelter animals a chance to find a new home

Each year, approximately two million puppies are bred in unsanitary environments known as “puppy mills.”

With so many animals already homeless, in shelters or in pounds, there is no need to contribute to the mass production of more animals when there are already so many animals in need of homes. Adoption helps the state deal with the homeless pet population and simultaneously helps put an end to puppy mills.

California has introduced California Assembly Bill 485, the Pet Rescue and Adoption Act, which would ban the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits that come from breeding mills in all pet stores throughout the state.

If signed, AB 485 will go into effect Jan. 1, 2019 and would require all pet stores to only sell animals that have been acquired through shelters or animal rescue groups.

More than 230 cities, towns and counties across the U.S. have already enacted a piece of legislation that regulates the sale of for-profit animals to pet stores. One of those legislations, the Animal Welfare Act of 1966, was signed into law that requires all animal breeders to be registered, licensed and monitored by federal regulators.

However, not all breeding farms are licensed and monitored, which has resulted in the overcrowding and inhumane treatment of many animals in order to gain profit.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, there is an estimated 10,000 puppy mills across the country. These animals are often kept in unsanitary conditions without proper vet care, food, water or the chance to socialize with other dogs in a stress-free environment.

Many of the dogs that are shipped out to pet stores from puppy mills come with health problems such as kidney and heartworm disease, respiratory disorders and other health ailments as a result of inbreeding and not receiving proper health care from an early age.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals stated females that are owned by these mills spend their lives crammed in cages. They are bred with little to no recovery time between litters in order to maximize profit, and once a female can no longer reproduce, they are often killed.

Along with the ethical implications of purchasing a “new dog,” puppy mills cost the state and its taxpayers more money than one could imagine. Once an unlicensed mill is seized, the state pays for the costs to provide these animals the care they need.

According to the Humane Society, in 2007, an unlicensed puppy mill was seized in Maine containing 249 animals. 10 to 11 weeks worth of care and vet costs cost approximately $440,000. This is common in California as well.

“California taxpayers spend over a quarter of a billion dollars every year to house homeless animals,” said Dr. Gary Weitzman, president and CEO of the San Diego Humane Society in an article by MNN.com. “AB 485 will help to ease the overcrowding of homeless animals in California shelters, relieve county budgets and put a spotlight on the abusive puppy mill industry.”

Animals sold from breeding farms cost an average of hundreds of dollars for consumers, not including future vet costs and vaccinations. By putting an end to our financial contribution to puppy mills, we come one step closer to shutting them down indefinitely.

Alternatively, shelters offer a variety of animals and breeds to choose from.

A common misconception is the idea that shelters dogs are older and possibly harbor diseases; yet, most of the animals that end up in shelters were given up by their owners because they could no longer care for them or they may have ran away from home.

Adopting offers the chance to choose from animals varying in species and age. Shelter animals are often times well-trained, and a person or family gets the chance to interact with the animal before adoption.

For those who are looking for pure bred pets, approximately 25 percent of shelter dogs are purebred, as stated on the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles website.

When adopting, the animal already comes with a clean bill of health and saves the owner the trouble of having to get it fixed. Adopting not only saves the buyer money, but it helps to give the animal a chance at a forever home.

Ignorantly buying from pet stores or online retailers who source from puppy mills contributes to the inhumane treatment of these animals. Why waste hundreds of dollars when there are many animals at the local shelter waiting to be sent to a safe, loving home?

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