California’s anti-puppy mill legislation goes to governor

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It all boils down to supply and demand. By passing A.B. 485, California lawmakers have demanded that puppy mills and similar operations no longer supply pet shops with companion animals.

Specifically the  legislation currently awaiting Gov. Gerry Brown’s signature takes aim at the unscrupulous breeders by ensuring that the pet stores can only acquire dogs, cats and rabbits from animal rescue groups, shelters and similar organizations.

A dog available for adoption at Adopt-a-Dog. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

As reported by Newsweek, “The purpose of the bill is to encourage pet stores to move into the rescue business and to reduce the number of animals killed at shelters due to lack of space.”

According to the ASPCA:

  • Approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.3 million are dogs and 3.2 million are cats.
  • Each year, approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized (670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats).
  • Approximately 3.2 million shelter animals are adopted each year (1.6 million dogs and 1.6 million cats).

Data provided by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) indicates that most people who have cats got them from shelters, friends or family, while most people who have dogs got them from breeders or shelters.

Many pet stores are already providing another option for people seeking companion animals. As Newsweek reported, “Some pet stores, including PetCo and Petfood Express, have already moved away from selling cats, dogs, and rabbits bred for profit and instead donate space to rescues and host adoption events.” According to its website, PetSmart is also on board.

“At PetSmart, we never sell dogs or cats. Together with PetSmart Charities, we help save over 1,300 pets every day through adoption,” the company says. In all, PetSmart claims it has saved more than 7.6 million animals through its adoption program.

Of course, there are always two sides to every story. And apparently, the AKC is not a fan of A.B. 485.

“AB 485’s proponents misleadingly claim that the bill will promote the purchasing of purebred dogs from local breeders. That claim, however, fails to shed light on the fact that many local anti-breeding laws and breeding restrictions, also supported by these groups, have already eliminated hobby breeding and now make obtaining a specific type of dog bred by a local breeder increasingly difficult,” the AKC says.

However, A.B. 485 does not ban Californians from getting purebred pets if they so choose. It simply bans them from doing so through pet stores. If the bill becomes law, they would still be able to get companion animals by contacting private breeders directly.

What do you think? Is this a good idea? Or will it do more harm than good? Let me know by leaving your thoughts in the comments section below.

Author questions morality of having pets

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“A better question would be: Should everyone be allowed to have pets?”

With the state of American politics these days, I’ve come across plenty of reading material that has simultaneously left me speechless and sent my blood pressure through the roof. But when I found this story I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry — and it has nothing to do with politics.

The Miami Herald article I discovered was just one of dozens written about a new book called Run, Spot, Run: The Ethics of Keeping Pets. In it, the author, Jessica Pierce, questions whether it is ethical for people to have pets.

“When we see our cats gazing wistfully out the window, or watch a goldfish swim lazy circles in a bowl, we can’t help but wonder: are we doing the right thing, keeping these independent beings locked up, subject to our control,” she asks in the Herald. “Is keeping pets actually good for the pets themselves?”

As you all know, I have a cat and love animals as much as — or maybe more — than most. But with all due respect to Pierce, this is one of the most ridiculous, stupid, idiotic things I have ever heard. I am not quite sure if it is an extreme case of political correctness, an extreme case of anthropomorphism or both.

A More Relevant Question

In her book, Pierce admits that most people do treat animals well but claims others “take them for granted,” or “think they are disposable.”

Sadly it is true that many people neglect, abuse, and abandon companion animals that require love, food, shelter and medical care in order to thrive. So to me, the pertinent question is not whether it is ethical to have pets, but whether everyone should be allowed to have them.

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

Clearly the answer to that question is a resounding, “no.”

Some people shouldn’t have pets because they are selfish. Some people shouldn’t have pets because they are irresponsible. Some people shouldn’t have pets because they are emotionally incapable of having them, and others shouldn’t have pets because they are financially incapable of having them.

Then there are the people who shouldn’t have pets because they are just plain evil. These are the people who have dogs and either engage in or sanction dog fighting. These are people who take advantage of dog breeds with aggressive tendencies. These are the people who leave their pets locked up in cages, crates or carriers all day. These are the people who abuse, abandon and neglect companion animals. These are the people who run puppy mills. These are the people who believe in killing animals for fun.

Taking Proper Precautions

I didn’t get any of my cats from a pet store, so I don’t know if there are screening processes in place for people who do that. Correct me if I’m wrong, but from what I’ve heard and read, I don’t think there is. If there isn’t, maybe it is time to rethink that.

I’m also unfamiliar with what’s involved with getting a purebred animal directly from a breeder. I assume that legitimate breeders do what they can to make sure puppies, kittens, and other animals end up in good homes. Again, feel free to let me know if this is the case.

As far as adopting from a shelter or rescue group goes, I can only speak from personal experience. When I adopted Eli from the Fauquier SPCA in 2008, I had to fill out some pretty extensive paperwork and pay an adoption fee before I could bring him home.

Prospective adopters had lots of dogs to choose from at the annual Puttin on the Dog show in Greenwich last fall. Photo by A. Bogdanovic
Pick me! An Adopt-a-Dog volunteer with a dog up for adoption at Puttin’ on the Dog in Greenwich. September 2015. Photo by A. Bogdanovic

At the local animal shelter where I volunteer, there is a comprehensive screening process in place to ensure successful matches. Prospective adopters must fill out and submit an application which includes specific information. References are required and checked before an adoption goes through. In the interest of full disclosure, specific information about each dog — including their background, age and compatibility with children and other animals — is also listed on the shelter’s website.

As Far As I’m Concerned…

Personally, I’ll never feel guilty about having a pet. In fact, with so many dogs and cats in need of a good home, the only thing I’ll ever feel badly about is that there’s no way to save them all.