From left: Haze Lynn, Patty Shenker, Sen. Henry Stern, Simone Reyes, Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, Judie Mancuso, Shelley Elam, Carol Dalton, and Nickolaus Sackett. Photo courtesy of Social Compassion in Legislation.
Party lines may be sharply divided regarding issues, but not when it comes to animals and their welfare. Today, California Assembly Bill 485, the Pet Rescue and Adoption Act, passed the California State Senate by a vote of 38 to 0. With Assemblymember Rocky Chavez (R-Oceanside) signing on as a co-author and more Republicans voting in favor in both houses, the bill passed with bipartisan support. The bill's supporters are hoping that Gov. Jerry Brown will sign the historic animal-welfare law into being when it lands on his desk.
AB 485 was authored by Assembly Members Patrick O'Donnell (D-Long Beach) and Matt Dababneh (D-Encino) and sponsored by animal advocacy group Social Compassion in Legislation. The bill is written to ban the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits sourced from high-volume, commercial breeding facilities, known as mills, in all pet shops throughout the state. Stores that offer pets for sale will be required to source them from local shelters and rescues.
"I thank my Senate colleagues for their support on this critical measure and for defending the voiceless," said Assemblymember Patrick O'Donnell (D-Long Beach). "AB 485 gives so many shelter animals the chance to find their forever homes, while simultaneously cutting off the outlet for puppy mill animals into our state."
"Most Californians agree that we need to put the brakes on the mass breeding of animals who end up in local shelters, costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars to care for and eventually euthanize," said Sen. Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton). "AB 485 will take the puppy mills out of pet stores and give shelter animals a better chance of being adopted."
The bill's staunchest opponent is the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC), an organization that monitors legislation affecting pets and the pet industry. Its president, Mike Bober, said that pet owners will actually lose out with regard to rights and protections, among them requirements that allow owners to be reimbursed for ill or deceased pets, that veterinarians regularly examine dogs that enter California pet stores, and provide materials and on the benefits of spaying and neutering. Pets that are sold by retail are generally intact.
“Most of these protections have existed since 1996,” said Bober, whose group represents California pet stores.
However, the supporters are celebrating a victory for cats, dogs and rabbits.
"We are thrilled by the Senate's vote today," Judie Mancuso, founder and president of Social Compassion in Legislation and the bill's sponsor. "AB 485 is a historic bill that will reduce the demand for high volume, cruelly bred dogs, cats and rabbits [and] will allow over half a million pets normally euthanized in our shelters annually a greater chance for adoption, and again show that California is a leader in animal welfare legislation."
Dababneh called the bill an important step in ending the inhumane and deplorable breeding practices of puppy mills, and fostering increased adoption opportunities for pets at local shelters. "However, our work is not done yet," he said.
The bill will now go to back briefly to the Assembly Floor for a concurrence vote on the amendments adopted in the Senate and then to Governor Brown's desk for signature. Supporters are encouraged to email, write or fax Gov. Brown and ask for his signature on the bill. Contact information is as follows:
Governor Jerry Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
Fax: (916) 558-3160
Editor's note: a previous version of this story incorrectly stated the bill passed 32 to 0. The bill actually passed 38 to 0.