12/30/2018 16:00 EST | Updated 12/31/2018 15:22 EST

California's Pet Stores To Only Sell Rescue Cats, Dogs And Rabbits

A new law requires all pet stores to identify the public agency, shelter or rescue group that the animals came from.

California is ringing in the new year as the first state in the country to ban stores from selling dogs, cats and rabbits that aren’t rescues.

The Pet Rescue and Adoption Act, which was signed into law by California Gov. Jerry Brown in 2017, will go into effect on Tuesday, Jan. 1.

The law requires all pet shops to identify the public animal control agency, shelter or rescue group that the animal came from. Such information must be on display on its cage or in its enclosure. 

The stores must also give public animal control agencies and shelters periodic access to those records. Anyone found to violate the law would be subject to a $500 fine.

Zbynek Pospisil via Getty Images
California is becoming the first state in the country to ban stores from selling nonrescue dogs, cats and rabbits.

The law intends to promote the adoption of pets from shelters and to help stop supporting mass breeding facilities ― popularly known as “puppy mills” ― which often have deplorable and inhumane conditions.

“In many cases, puppy mills house animals in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions without adequate food, water, socialization or veterinary care,” a fact sheet for the legislation said. “As a result, animals bred in these facilities often face an array of health problems, including communicable diseases, behavioral issues and genetic disorders.”

The public will still be allowed to purchase dogs, cats and rabbits directly from private breeders.

The bill, A.B. 485, received strong support from animal welfare organizations like the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society of the United States. According to the ASPCA, an estimated 1.5 million animals were euthanized in shelters in the U.S. in 2016.

Critics of the law expressed concern that it will make it harder for the public to find specific breeds and that it will put some shops out of business.

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