Animal Welfare Activists See New Pet Adoption Law as a Game Changer

STOCKTON -- A new state law going into effect Tuesday will require pet stores to sell certain animals from shelters or rescuers.

One animal welfare activist says the Pet Rescue and Adoption Act is a game changer.

Teresa Ibarra just adopted a dog from the Stockton Animal Shelter on Sunday.

“He's a German shepherd. He's about a year and 6 months. We pick him up either Thursday or tomorrow because he's going to get neutered,” she said.

She's just one of many who support California's new law, which now bans pet stores from selling certain animals from breeders.

“I think it's a good thing for all the animals," Ibarra said. "It's better to adopt rather than buying from breeders. I hear a lot of breeders have hoarding issues with their dogs."

Starting Jan. 1, the state hopes to put an end to puppy mills and kitten factories. Pet stores will only be able to sell dogs, cats and rabbits that come from animal shelters or other nonprofit animal rescue organizations.

“The key is to make sure that we're helping the animals within our state as much as possible and to not support in any way those puppy breeders or brokers that are not reputable or doing a good job,” said Sacramento Animal Control Officer Jace Huggins.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed the pet adoption bill into law in October of 2017.

"This law is going to open up so many opportunities for homeless dogs, cats and rabbits to find forever-homes in pet stores across all across California," said animal welfare activist Christine Morrissey.

But the new law isn't without some controversy.

The American Kennel Club strongly opposed the law saying, "It not only interferes with individual freedoms, it also increases the likelihood that a person will obtain a pet that is not a good match for their lifestyle and the likelihood that that animal will end up in a shelter."

But animal welfare activists don't agree. They say the new pet store law will reduce the number of animals in local shelters and make it easier for them to be adopted.

"This is going to give us so many more chances to give animals a second chance,” Morrissey said.

Pet stores will also have to keep detailed records about the shelter animals they sell.

Stores caught not complying face a $500 fine per animal.