The new legislation that came into effect in California on January 1 means that pets stores are only allowed to sell cats, dogs and rabbits only if they came from a shelter or not-for-profit rescue organisation.
California is the first state to introduce legislation banning the sale of pet animals from private breeders. It has been touted as being the end of puppy mills and kitten factories, where unscrupulous back-yard breeders churn out multiple animals with little regard for welfare.
Each pet store must maintain records to show the source of every cat, dog and rabbit it sells or provides space for, with a $500 fine for every animal that breaches the act.
The California assembly member - Patrick O'Donnell has insisted the new legislation firmly places emphasis on animal welfare and reducing the number of animals in shelters. He claims the act takes the emphasis off the profit of pets and instead is concerned with caring for the pets and getting them a good home.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) estimates that 1.5 million animals per year are put down whilst 6.5 million enter shelters each year.
The Pet Rescue and Adoption Act only applies to pets stores in California. Members of the public are still able to purchase puppies, kittens and rabbits from private sellers.
However, it is hoped that the act will reduce the number of unscrupulous breeders who are focused solely on profit, whilst reducing the number of pets that enter and remain in shelters.
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