Want a pet? The California legislature is trying to make that harder

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MARCH 20: A dog rescued from a South Korean dog meat farm sits in a crate at the San Francisco the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty (SPCA) shelter on March 20, 2015 in San Francisco, California. The Humane Society International rescued 57 dogs from a South Korean dog meat farm that were raising the dogs for human consumption. The dogs are being distributed to San Francisco Bay Area shelters and will be up for adoption. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

For years, local pet shops have provided healthy, loving pets to caring animal lovers across California. These responsible and ethical entrepreneurs are at risk as misguided advocates push Assembly Bill 485 to ban cat, dog and rabbit sales statewide.

Proponents of the bill, which was passed by the Committee on Business and Professions on Tuesday, say it will ensure healthier pets in California. This is untrue. Pet stores are the most regulated source of dogs, cats and rabbits in the state. State law requires pet retailers to be transparent with consumers, and to provide records and warranties for each dog that they sell. These measures are consistent with high standards the responsible pet trade has long advocated. They protect both pets and consumers from unethical businesses.

Federal law further protects consumers and pets by requiring that retailers only source pets from breeders licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture or exempted hobby breeders.

If Assembly Bill 485 becomes law, shelters and rescues will become the only source of cats, dogs and rabbits for retailers. While shelters and rescues frequently do great work, they are almost unregulated in California. This allows great shelters to be undermined by bad actors. For example, two California shelters were recently found to be engaging in substandard practices and abuse of dozens of animals that could have been caught much earlier had the shelters been subject to proper oversight.

PIJAC opposes AB485 because it accomplishes none of the goals claimed by its advocates – it does nothing to close unscrupulous, illegal breeders who cannot legally sell to pet stores. It also has no impact on shelter and rescue populations, as shelters and rescues routinely import far more dogs than they take in from local owners.

The bill will, however, undermine laws which protect pets and pet owners. It will harm consumer choice. And it will risk the livelihoods of dozens of small business owners and their hundreds of employees.

In California, responsible retailers provide pets that best fit the health, lifestyle and other needs of prospective owners. A recent Moore Information survey of dog owners found that dogs desired for distinctive characteristics frequently come from retailers. Animal shelters regularly do great work connecting pets with pet lovers, but they often do not have access to records for a dog’s health, genetics and other critical information that help place a companion animal in the best home.

Retailers have this information to share this information with prospective pet owners, which is why the purchase of a pet from a pet store is frequently the catalyst for a trusted, lifelong relationship. Many pet owners know they can trust a local retailer to be their ethical partner in finding and caring for their ideal companion.

Pet stores are also required by state law to provide warranties for dogs and cats sold to consumers. Shelters and rescues have no such legal obligations. If stores can only source their dogs, cats and rabbits from shelters and rescues, they will no longer be able to provide this warranty protection to prospective pet owners.

The pet-owning public won’t be the only ones losing out if Assembly Bill 485 becomes law. There are hundreds of hard-working Californians in pet retail whose jobs will be at risk. They are part of a wider industry that employs 98,000 Californians, according to a recent economic study we commissioned.

But even single mothers and struggling college students employed by retailers aren’t at greatest risk from AB485. That dubious honor, ironically, goes to pets. By targeting principled, regulated retailers and breeders, AB485 risks driving people to the black market where unsupervised sales of rabbits, cats and dogs empower unethical, illegal breeders and sellers who don’t adhere to the high standards of the responsible pet trade.

California lawmakers should reject Assembly Bill 485. It serves no good purpose for the people and pets of California. It hurts businesses and their employees. It puts the health of the pet community at risk. And it denies prospective pet owners the opportunity to find their ideal companion. Those of us who care for pets on a daily basis seek the opportunity to work with lawmakers to develop alternative legislation that truly benefits everyone.

Mike Bober is President and CEO of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council. PIJAC members include retailers, companion animal suppliers, manufacturers, wholesale distributors, manufacturers’ representatives, pet hobbyists, and other trade organizations. 


  1. Animal Lover says

    More control – more businesses being shut – and Calif lawmakers don’t care!!! Rescues are being imported from other countries with all sorts of diseases – but Calif lawmakers don’t care!!! Unsocialized animals are being sold to people with kids – but Calif lawmakers don’t care!!!

    WHY??? Because the idiot Animal Rights radicals are pulling their strings. Do NOT give money to H$U$, A$PCA, or any rescue group that you don’t check out personally.

  2. PETA strikes again.

  3. A Progressive is someone who lays awake at night consumed by the fear that someone, somewhere, is enjoying life to its fullest – and didn’t ask permission first.
    “That which is not specifically permitted is forbidden.”

  4. Pissed consumer says

    44% of “rescues” in LA are not legitimate. Imagine that…legislating out tax paying, legitimate businesses for illegitimate, tax evading and deceiving ones.


  5. AnimalRightsIsWrong says

    Demonizing pet breeders is the back door to demonizing farmers. Once lawmakers and the public lose their grasp on perspective, reality and consequences they surrender their sanity to fanaticism. That is exactly what’s happening in California where witch-hunting breeders, SeaWorld, circuses and now zoos takes high precedence over violent crime and poverty.

  6. Donn and nancy Moyer says

    This is what happened in British Columbia years ago. Animal “rights” nuts managed to destroy the world class Stanley Park Zoo, but tried to ban any pets. Where will this insanity end?

  7. Leanne Rager says

    I would like these people introducing these CA bills restricting the number of dogs per household to 2,3 or 4 to explain why celebrities, such as Lisa Vanderpump can have 6 or 7 dogs in her Be early Hills mansion, along with 2 miniature horses in her yard. So tell me, lawmakers, why celebrities are exempt from dog limits and responsible show breeders who sell puppies on strict spay/neuter contracts are not allowed to keep as many dogs as your precious celebrities.


  1. […] California that sell cats, dogs and/or rabbits. By possibly putting them out of business, AB 485 risks putting hundreds of people on the unemployment line. In fact, AB 485’s preference for shelter […]

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