SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Animal advocates in California are hoping to see Assembly Bill 485 pass next week.
The bill, introduced by Assemblyman Patrick O'Donnell (D-Long Beach), would prohibit pet stores from selling live dogs, cats, and rabbits unless the stores get those animals from a shelter, rescue, or adoption organization.
The bill is being backed by animals rights groups as an effective way to cut the number of commercial breeding operations or puppy mills.
Assembly Bill 485 would also punish pet stores that continue selling animals bought from breeders. A third offense would trigger a misdemeanor.
"It just makes us happy to know that adoption is going to be available to more people," says Kira Farrell with the Santa Maria Valley Humane Society. "Having more pet stores and adoption centers out there is going to save more lives."
The bill would require pet stores to obtain their dogs, cats, and rabbits exclusively from animal shelters and rescue groups.
"It's going to be nice for people to have more options where they can adopt and its going to be kind of a wake-up call for some people who think pet stores are the only option."
Groups like No More Pet Stores 805 have long protested the selling of breeder animals in commercial stores. The stores and breeders say the state is making it more difficult for them to turn a profit.
"This is not saying you can't breed responsibly," says Genete Bowen, an animal rights advocate. "It's saying we're not going to sell animals from backyard breeders, and we're not going to sell animals in pet stores.
With more than two dozen cities in the state already taking part in the ban, making it statewide was the next move.
"We've got two states that have passed this now, in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, so now California. "We've usually on the forefront of stuff so hopefully this will get more states to do the same thing."
The Assembly Business and Professions Committee will meet to discuss Assembly Bill 485 on April 18.