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New California Bill Bans Puppy Mills & Leads the Way To Responsible Breeding

Updated on January 16, 2018
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Jerry Flattum is a performer, songwriter & writer...and serious animal lover.

Animal Rights Gains a Win in California

New California Bill Bans Puppy Mills &
Leads the Way To Responsible Breeding

(NOTE: See footnotes for additional links)

California AB 485
Sponsored by Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach), California Assembly Bill 485, the Pet Rescue and Adoption Act, passed both the California State Senate by a vote of 38 to 0 and the Assembly on concurrence with a vote of 65 to 3 this week (Sept. 15, 2017, SACREMENTO, CA).

In a statement to the Associated Press, "I thank my Assembly and Senate colleagues for their support on this critical measure and for defending the voiceless." O'Donnell goes on to say, "Californians spend more than $250 million a year to house and euthanize animals in our shelters," he added.

The Human Society Veterinary Medical Assn., a strong supporter of the bill, echoed the sentiments of many other supporters (Social Compassion in Legislation;’s Puppy Mill Free US):

"By severing connections with inherently inhumane commercial breeding enterprises known as ‘mills’ the pet stores are no longer supporting businesses which often house animals in substandard conditions, provide inadequate veterinary medical care and little to no socialization."

Notably, the list of complaints fails to include poor nutrition. The old adage for humans, “You are what you eat,” applies equally to animals. Irresponsible breeders will feed animals “junk food,” if they feed them at all.

Goodbye Puppy Mills
The bill not only supports and advocates for rescued animals, but adamantly opposes illegal and/or bad breeders, commonly characterized as "puppy mills."

Pet shops will have to get animals from local shelters and rescues. Animal rescue pundits propose the motto, "Adopt, don't shop."

Matt Bershadker, ASPCA president and CEO, told People Magazine that California will be the first time an entire state enacts protection for rescue animals.

“By prohibiting the sale of commercially bred dogs and cats in pet stores, California will cut off the supply of inhumanely bred puppies into communities across the state, and prevent consumers from unwittingly supporting this cruel industry,” in a statement.

All we need now is Governor Jerry Brown's signature...and a new national effort at setting the standards for good breeding.

What Is Responsible Breeding?
Good breeding starts with a smart prospective pet owner. People have a notion of some breed they'd like to have, but are clueless as to how those animals are bred--how they're taken care of.

Prospective animal owners get duped with a promise, never knowing the animal they think they're getting is shipped in from out-of-state, with animals often unhealthy.

The bill requires stores to keep public records, to show where an animal came from. New pet owners must learn to ask for genetic and any illness history as well.

Current California law already requires anyone who sells more than two animals per year must have a permit, pay sales tax, and declare the income on their taxes.

Of course, buyers aren't going to ask for tax records, but still need to be aware of what the federal, state and local laws are concerning breeders.

The bill reveals how the majority of breeders exist illegally in an underground economy, selling without permits.

Good Breeder Checklist
The Continental Kennel Club website is an excellent resource for prospective pet owners to learn about responsible breeding. The CKC provides registration services and a list of CKC breeders.

Many of the elements in a responsible breeding checklist include:

  • Make sure the breeder is knowledgeable
  • Visit the breeder's kennel; ask to see the puppy's parents.
  • Ask about temperament; appearance
  • Is the kennel clean, organized, well taken care of?
  • Animals should be healthy, well fed and watered, with lot's of space.
  • Look for wellness, or malnutrition, runny nose/eyes, coughing, lethargy, skin sores.
  • Be aware of how the breeder interacts with the animals.
  • Know the history of the breed; where the breed originated; how and why the breed came to be.
  • Is there a contract? What if the buyer wants to return the animal?
  • Breeders care where their animals go, that is, good homes. Buyers need to be just as responsible as breeders in the life time commitment of caring for a pet.
  • Breeders should need to show proof of health screenings such as OFA and CERF certificates.

OFA and CERF Certificates: What Are They?
A board certified veterinary ophthalmologist will complete the OFA Eye Certification Registry form and indicate any specific disease(s) found.

Breeding advice will be offered based on guidelines established for that particular breed by the Genetics Committee of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO).

The ACVO announced a new Eye Certification Registry (ECR). The new ECR is a joint effort between the OFA and the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) and has the full endorsement of the ACVO and their member Diplomates.

The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) are two organizations that breeders can register annual ophthalmic breeding exams.

CKC Certified Pedigree – “Papers”
The breeder must provide "Papers":

An CKC Certified Pedigree is a listing of the selected dog's ancestry. Options for CKC registration include registering an animal that already has papers from another registry and parents who already have papers. It includes the registration numbers, registered names, coat colors and Stud Book dates.

Irresponsible backyard breeders are often guilty of over-breeding and not following professional breeding guidelines. Euthanasia becomes the sad destination because of overpopulated shelters.

Although the American Kennel Club is authoritative, its breeder checklist does not include nutrition.

Many owners care about nutrition, what the dog eats, from dog "junk food" to table scraps to holistic.

Cats and Other Animals
Although most people think of dogs when they think of breeds, there are also many cat breeds.

The International Cat Association is the world's largest genetic registry of pedigree felines.

Cats—or any animal—have the same health/care requirements as dogs, and the good breeding checklist for dogs applies equally to cats.

Of course, the bill supports rescue animals, but contrary to the opposition, it does not condemn responsible breeders.

Prohibiting pet stores anywhere in California from selling dogs, cats or rabbits, unless the animal was obtained through a rescue or shelter, is already the model used by the nation’s largest pet retailers, Petco and PetSmart.

This model would certainly provide greater visibility to shelter animals and increases their chance for adoption.

Today, more than 230 cities in North America have banned the sale of dogs and cats by pet stores, 35 in California alone.

The bill supports local, responsible breeders who limit their total litters to no more than three per year.

Social Compassion In Legislation
Puppy Mill Free US
American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists
The International Cat Assn.
People Magazine: California bans puppy mill pet store sales
American Association of Feline Practitioners


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