BY MIKE BOBER
One of the biggest threats to the responsible pet rade is pet sale bans. Hundreds of local and coun- ty bans have been enacted in recent years, even
though a Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC)
analysis found that at least two-thirds of the bans are in
jurisdictions that had no pet store in them prior to the
implementation of a ban.
The industry has its work cut out in California, where
a bill to enact the first statewide ban on the sales of cats,
dogs and rabbits recently passed the state assembly. As
of press time, the bill was expected to have a hearing in
July in front of a senate committee.
The fight over California Assembly Bill 485 shows
that animal activists are confident that they can succeed
in the next stage of their attacks on the responsible pet
trade. The industry, however, is working hard to educate California lawmakers through a coalition that includes PIJAC, the American Kennel Club, the World
Pet Association, the California Retailer Association and
many more organizations.
Each of these groups has its own arguments to make
for specific constituencies. PIJAC members include breeders, pet stores, distributors, manufacturers, veterinarians
and groomers—but it is pet stores that are most affected
by this bill. Through media placements such as an op-ed in the San Francisco Examiner, we have made sure
legislators and the public know that harming them will
drastically affect the future of pet ownership in the state
as a whole.
Here are some of the ways PIJAC has made its case to
lawmakers and the public alike:
AB 485 IS BAD FOR CALIFORNIA’S HEALTH
The health benefits of pet ownership are clear. Children,
the elderly, veterans and even average Americans receive
physical, emotional, psychological and other benefits
from having a pet in their home.
AB 485 would deny those with specific circumstances—such as allergies, young children or small apartments—the ability to get an appropriate pet without
being well connected or financially able to travel to a
breeder. Under AB 485, Californians would be forced to
rely on the unknown nature of many companion animals
sourced from rescues and shelters.
This is not a criticism of rescues and shelters; most do
great work taking care of abused and abandoned animals.
But the fact that these pets have been so ill treated means
they often don’t have proper medical, health and genetic
records for consumers to examine.
The negative effect of the bill on human health was
the basis of PIJAC’s op-ed in the San Diego Union-Tribune on June 18, and we informed San Diego’s CBS
station of the restrictions on consumers who look for
specific types of dogs. Coincidentally, the op-ed was
published just 10 days after a new study found that dog
owners walk 20 minutes per day more than the average
person in Great Britain—and the difference maker was,
indeed, the pet.
AB 485 IS BASED ON BAD RESEARCH
Proponents of AB 485 such as sponsor Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell claim that it will help reduce euthanasia
rates and overcrowding issues at shelters across the state.
However, as we argued at City Watch LA, those arguments are uncertain at best when examining the limited
“However, data from Los Angeles Animal Services’
analysis of annual intakes and outtakes for cats and dogs
shows that these animals’ adoptions have dropped in Los
Angeles over the last six years,” I reported in City Watch
LA. “In 2011/2012—two years prior to the ban going into
effect— 19,158 cats and dogs were adopted. That number
dropped to 17,291 in 2015/2016, and preliminary numbers
indicate adoption numbers could be even lower in 2017.
“At best, Los Angeles has seen mixed results since
the ban’s implementation. And statistics like the reduced
euthanasia rates for cats and dogs were already trending
downward before the ban went into place.”
This argument is further undermined by the fact that
California’s rescues and shelters often import pets—a
strong indicator that locally and regionally available pets
are not enough for those Californians who want a lifelong
I also told a San Diego Union-Tribune reporter, in
comments that didn’t make publication, that limited
data available from rescues and shelters makes O’Donnell’s claims unverifiable. For example, why was a pet
euthanized? Also, is alleged overcrowding widespread
or concentrated among specific breeds (something a ban
AB 485 WILL HURT CALIFORNIANS’ WALLETS
There are as many as 100 pet stores in California that sell
cats, dogs and/or rabbits. By possibly putting them out
of business, AB 485 risks putting hundreds of people on
the unemployment line. In fact, AB 485’s preference for
shelter and rescue adoptions over pet store sales is doubly
problematic because it does not require those shelters and
rescues to provide dogs, cats or rabbits to pet stores in the
state, and, thus, fails to ensure that they will continue to
be able to source any animals at all.
It also voids existing consumer protections, putting
consumers on the financial hook for illnesses. In an interview with ABC10 in Sacramento, I explained that the
state’s warranty law for certain genetic conditions and
transmittable diseases would be unenforceable if AB 485
becomes law. The simple fact is that shelters and rescues
are not held to the same veterinary, health, transparency
or warranty standards as pet stores—which means that
replacing pet stores with rescues and shelters might cost
consumers if their pet gets ill.
AB 485 IS A FEEL-GOOD MEASURE
WITH REAL CONSEQUENCES
Surveys show that roughly 4 percent of dogs and 2 percent of cats in America are found through a pet store—
one-seventh as many as come from a rescue or shelter.
Furthermore, as we informed Assemblyman O’Donnell’s
constituents in an op-ed, pet stores are the most-regulated
companion animal providers in California.
Banning the sales of pets in stores will do almost nothing to stop unethical breeders and might, in fact, drive
consumers to them once pet stores are out of business.
AB 485 is a measure that, like a similar local ordinance in Sacramento that we opposed, will feel good
to its backers while doing almost nothing to prevent
challenges facing rescues and shelters. But it will harm
hundreds of pet care providers by putting them out of
work, and it will hurt the ability of Californians to find
the pet they want.
Mike Bober is president and CEO of the Pet Industry Joint
Advisory Council (PIJAC). PIJAC members include retailers,
companion animal suppliers, manufacturers, wholesale distributors, manufacturers’ representatives, pet hobbyists and other
The Fight Goes On in California
Banning the sales of pets in stores will do
almost nothing to stop unethical breeders and might,
in fact, drive consumers to them ...