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Proposed pet sale ban is harmful feel-good measure

Dogs descend on California Capitol to lobby for crackdown on puppy mills

Assemblyman Patrick O'Donnell leads a press conference in support of Assembly Bill 485, which requires dogs, cats or rabbits sold at stores to come from rescues or shelters.
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Assemblyman Patrick O'Donnell leads a press conference in support of Assembly Bill 485, which requires dogs, cats or rabbits sold at stores to come from rescues or shelters.

The Bee’s editorial, “City wants you to adopt pets, not buy them” (April 26), endorses a ban on pet sales in Sacramento. According to the board, the city’s two pet stores should only offer rescue-sourced dogs and cats, because “many” cats and dogs sold in stores “come from often-horrible kitten and puppy mills.”

This accusation is based upon no evidence. It is illegal for the pet providers in question to source cats and dogs from unethical breeders. Additionally, existing California law holds store-based sales of cats and dogs to strict transparency, warranty and health standards for consumer and pet protection.

The legal and voluntary standards followed by retailers and ethical breeders are just part of why so many Californians trust pet stores to help them find their ideal companions. These locally owned and operated stores can provide a dog or cat that fits allergy and lifestyle needs, beginning a relationship that increases the likelihood of a successful, lifelong match and reduces the odds of burdening a shelter with a surrendered pet.

Like Assembly Bill 485, a similar proposal that would ban the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits statewide, the proposed ordinance will not stop true puppy and kitten mills – unethical, illegal operators prohibited by federal law from providing pets to retailers. It will harm pet choice for Sacramento residents, and endanger jobs at the city’s two retailers. And while it may be largely “symbolic” for city officials, bans like this and the one proposed in AB 485 have real consequences for pet owners who will lose protections currently provided by California’s warranty law.

The editorial board’s support for both bans is misguided. The City Council should reconsider the ban and take the responsible pet trade up on our desire to be collaborators in protecting pets and consumers in the city.

Mike Bober is president and CEO of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council. He can be contacted at MBober@pijac.org.

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