REGION — Starting Jan. 1, pet stores in California will — or should — have a different feel.
Gone will be the puppies and pets from towns in Missouri, Pennsylvania, Ohio and other places where they are bred by the hundreds, sometimes in conditions that have been deemed as inhumane.
In their place will be animals from rescue groups and shelters, the result of a state law that outgoing Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law in October 2017.
Assembly Bill 485 bars pet stores from selling animals from commercial kennels, which are sometimes referred to as “puppy mills.”
Pet stores that are found to be in violation are subject to a $500 per each animal offered for sale.
State Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, introduced the bill in February 2017. The bill had near universal support in Sacramento, passing through both the State Assembly and State Senate with sweeping majorities.
State lawmakers gave retail pet stores a year to comply with the new law before enforcement began on Jan. 1.
The bill had the backing of nearly every animal welfare group statewide, including a strong contingent in North County that had worked for years to pass similar ordinances in cities throughout the county, including in Encinitas, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Vista and San Marcos.
Those groups celebrated the beginning of enforcement, but urged vigilance on behalf of the public.
“NOAH Co-founder Leslie Davies and I are elated that the day has finally arrived,” said Andrea Cunningham, co-founder of the organization Not One Animal Harmed, which actively lobbied for the bill’s passage. “We are proud of the part NOAH played in helping the bill’s sole sponsor, Judie Mancuso of Social Compassion In Legislation, achieve the passing of this historic legislation.
“Now it will be a matter of enforcement, and these stores are already on Humane Law Enforcement’s radar,” Cunningham said. “It’s important for the public to be aware that just because the law is now in effect, the problem hasn’t necessarily disappeared. Especially in these early days, we really need to hold these stores’ feet to the fire. If you see something that’s not right, please report it to Humane Law Enforcement immediately.”
The bill, though widely supported in the legislature, was not without opponents. These opponents of the bill — including the American Kennel Club, the California Retailers Association, the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council and one prominent San Diego County pet store owner — argued that the bill strips consumers of the right to choose where they purchase their animals.
A call to David Salinas, who owns several pet stores in San Diego County and lobbied against the bill, was not returned at the time of publication.