Saturday, August 26, 2023

No-brainer for pet stores to be banned from selling commercially-bred cats and dogs

There are several jurisdictions in the United States where pet stores have been banned from selling cats and dogs bred in puppy mills which means breeding establishments where they have inadequate standards of animal welfare and where commercial profit trumps the welfare of the animals.

Puppies at a puppy mill in Tennessee. Image: Humane Soc.

And in these jurisdictions pet stores can adopt out shelter animals with whom they work in partnership. That is my understanding of the aim of another jurisdiction namely the state of Michigan which is debating a new bill called HB 4838 which would ban the retail sale of commercially-bred animals in pet stores.

California enacted a similar law in 2017 and they were the first state to ban such sales according to the Associated Press. Other states followed such as Maryland which banned the sale of cats and dogs in pet stores. This caused a pushback from pet store owners of course and the breeders who supplied them. They challenged the measure in court.

Illinois followed along the same lines a year later. And New York band pet stores from selling cats, dogs and rabbits near the end of 2022.

Clarification needed

I am reading some reporting which appears to be misleading. These laws are meant to allow pet stores to adopt out rescue animals but not sell commercially-bred animals.

But some news outlets such as the Huron Daily Tribune state that there will be a ban on the sale of cats and dogs at pet shops. This appears to be an absolute ban. And it implies that you will be unable to adopt a cat or dog at a pet store in Michigan when the law is in force.

However, the bill's title states that there will be a requirement in pet shops for them to sell only certain animals. That comes direct from the bill itself.

So, my understanding of this is that pet stores will be able to sell some animals but not commercially bred cats and dogs (and rabbits) and they will be able to adopt out rescue animals. When a customer wants to adopt a rescue animal from a pet store, they will have to pay a fee of some sort I expect. This is not strictly speaking a purchase but it would be an adoption fee as I understand it.

No-brainer from animal welfare standpoint

I would like to see clearer reporting on this to be honest. But the concept is a no-brainer as I stated in the title. Why is it they no-brainer? Because of the obvious reason that there are too many unwanted cats and dogs in America in many jurisdictions where they are in shelters and where some of them will be euthanised because they cannot find a person to adopt them. These will be healthy animals. So, it's killing not euthanasia.

To be killing animals in one place i.e. shelters and then selling the same species of animal in another place i.e. pet shops is simply untenable and it is certainly unethical. That's why HB 4838 is a good bill and I would expect it to become law which is planned for July 1, 2025.

I also believe the law will refer to rabbits as well by the way. The Huron Daily Tribune also quotes a part of this bill which apparently states the following: "Beginning July 1, 2025, a pet shop shall not sell, adopt, exchange, or transfer, or offer for sale, adoption, exchange, or transfer, a dog, cat, or rabbit."

That confuses me as well because it's stating that a person coming into a pet store after the bill has become law would not be able to adopt a rescue cat or dog or rabbit from the store when this is the whole purpose of the bill.

If someone can clarify that then please do so in a comment.

It works

Here is a comment by Nathan Winograd:

Such laws do three things:
  1. Encourage people to adopt/rescue;
  2. Educate the community about dog and cat (and rabbit) abuse in mills;
  3. Stop that abuse.
And they work. Thanks to the passage of these laws nationwide, the number of commercial breeders in the U.S. has declined by 30%, and “Nebraska Department of Agriculture records show that half of the state’s commercial dog and cat breeders have left the business.”

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