Why New Jersey Should Enact California’s New Pet Adoption Law


Jackson Britt, Staff Writer

As 2019 begins in the state of California, so will enforcement of The Pet Rescue and Adoption Act passed in 2017. The Act requires all operating pet shops within the state to sell only rescue animals- namely dogs, cats, and rabbits. The creation of this unique law stems from a desire on the part of many to see animal rescue promoted and the prominence of animal cruelty by way of “puppy mill” operations diminished. Puppy mills are breeding facilities that exist for purely commercial reasons- not for the ethical breeding and raising of dogs, but instead as a way to most cost effectively oversee the eventual sale of purebred puppies to unsuspecting owners. Puppy mills are often times unlicensed and operate in complete secrecy- even licensed breeding programs can be considered a puppy mill if certain ethical standards are violated. Unfortunately, dogs are the primary victims of inhumane breeding. Although pet shops that sell purebred puppies may seem like legitimate and viable options in adopting healthy pets, often the treatment of these animals is barbaric and cruel. The ASPCA, one of the largest animal rescue networks in the entire country that seeks to expose these unlawful operations lists the typical characteristics of puppy mills as having tiny cages, poor veterinary care and hygiene supplied to the animals, nonstop breeding, and disregard for genetics.

So how does the typical pet shop fit into all of this? According to the Humane Society,

“Responsible breeders do not sell their puppies to pet stores because they want to meet their puppy buyers in person—and a majority of national breed clubs’ Codes of Ethics prohibit or discourage their members from selling their dogs to pet stores. The suppliers of pet store puppies are largely “puppy mills,” commercial facilities that mass-produce puppies for sale. The Humane Society of the United States conducted several hidden-camera investigations which revealed that many of the breeding facilities that supply pet stores are mills.” Given this and the estimate provided by the advocacy group “The Puppy Mill Project” that over 2 million puppies are bred in mills each year, many pet stores are complacent in the widespread inhumane treatment of animals all across the country. The newly implemented law will require pet stores in California to only sell rescue animals and provide records they are in fact rescue animals; any pet store that cannot provide these records will be fined $500 as means of enforcement. Californians will still be able to purchase pets from private breeders of their choice allowing for more responsible purchasing of animals- namely dogs.

PetSmart, Petco, and other large pet store chains have been offering adoptions and sponsoring rescue pets for years and in the process, they have saved the lives of millions of animals. PetSmart alone celebrated the adoption of 7 million pets- cats, dogs, rabbits, etc which proves this rescue-based model is sustainable and is the most ethical way of promoting and supplying pet ownership.

Additionally, this law seeks to benefit the taxpayers of California who spend more than $250 million a year to house and euthanize shelter animals when shelters become too crowded. Thankfully, this law will allow for more space in shelters, less euthanization, and less needless waste of the taxpayer’s money. By passing such a sweeping statewide law, California is making clear it stands with the countless animals subjected to cruelty in illegal puppy mills that exist only for profit- and it’s time for New Jersey to do the same.