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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on October 17th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 33 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 18, Issue 33

Pet advocates laud ban on commercially bred animals in pet stores


A law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown which bans pet stores from selling dogs, cats, and rabbits raised by commercial breeders, was met with celebration from local pet advocates and condemnation from a local pet store owner.

In an effort to prevent the animal cruelty that is often affiliated with commercial breeders, also known as puppy mills, California plans to ban pet stores from selling commercially bred dogs, cats, and rabbits.

Assembly Bill 485, approved by Gov. Jerry Brown on Oct. 13, will require pet stores to obtain all dogs, cats, and rabbits from animal control shelters, rescue groups, humane society shelters, or animal cruelty prevention shelters. The bill will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019.

Cristine Collier, founder of the animal advocacy group No More Pet Store Puppies 805, said she proposed similar legislation to the Santa Maria City Council in 2015. The issue, she said, wasn’t even discussed.

 “I just felt like, ‘God, you guys don’t even care where these animals are coming from,’” Collier said. “We felt so defeated and like the council just wasn’t hearing what we were saying. So now I feel validated. Thank God it was bigger than them.”

The law, Collier said, will be a huge step in the right direction. Collier has led protests against commercial breeding for years. Those breeders, she said, are usually large-scale programs aimed at mass-producing companion animals. Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture regulates commercial breeders, Collier said the standards for animal treatment are extremely low.

Legally, Collier said animals can be kept in cages with 6 inches of space for 24 hours a day. There is no limit to how often they are bred, and they get little to no veterinarian care.

 Collier’s purebred Papillon, Lyric, was rescued from a puppy mill that burned down. Lyric’s vocal chords were cut as a puppy, which Collier said is a common occurrence for small dogs that are commercially bred.

Pet stores typically deal commercially bred animals because they’re cheaper, Collier said, and the profit margin for pet store owners is larger. But pet stores that sell shelter and rescue animals do just fine, she said.

 “Ninety-nine percent of pet store animals come from puppy mills,” Collier said. “And millions of animals at shelters are put down each year. We don’t need more animals. We don’t need commercial breeding.”

About 6.5 million companion animals enter shelters each year, according to data collected by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals. Nearly 1.5 million of those are euthanized due to lack of interest in adoption. With laws like Assembly Bill 485 in place, demand for commercially bred animals will decrease significantly, Collier said, resulting in fewer commercial breeders.

But pet store owners, like Adam Tipton, who co-owns Santa Maria’s Animal Kingdom Pet Shop franchise, have long argued against many of Collier’s accusations and attempts at passing legislature against commercial breeders. In 2015, Collier said Tipton and other Animal Kingdom employees showed up to a City Council meeting in opposition of her organization, and in a Sun story from January this year, Tipton defended his store’s practices.

Although Tipton could not be reached for comment as of the Sun’s press time, he offered a statement in a Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council press release on Oct. 13 that the bill endangers his three store locations, 26 employees, and customers.

“The public has been put at great risk by the false information that was used to pass this law,” Tipton wrote. “Our relationships with breeders means we know exactly what pets are going to our customers; by targeting California’s pet stores, this law will allow unregulated breeders to flourish as customers find other sources for their pets. AB 485 risks customers’ ability to get the best pet for their circumstances.”

Weekly Poll
What are the most important conversations to be having right now when it comes to policing?

We need to address how racial bias influences policing.
We should focus on funding the police so they can do their job.
Mental health is where our dollars need to go, both in and out of the police department.
As one Sept. 20 community input meeting attendee said, 'Let’s get back to the Old West and treat people like they should be treated.' (Interpret how you will.)

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