2019 is set to be a kinder year for animals in the state of California, as a new statewide law went into effect on the 1st of January barring retail pet stores from selling kittens, rabbits, and puppies that aren’t sourced from rescue organizations or shelters.

Effectively barring cruel puppy and kitten mills from the retail sector, Assembly Bill 485 requires these animals to come from a public control agency or shelter, humane society group, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals shelter or a rescue group that has an agreement with a private or public shelter. Retailers who violate this law will be fined $500.

Signed by Governor Jerry Brown in October 2017, this measure makes California the first state in the US to introduce such rules; however, there are currently at least 230 regional areas in the U.S. that have similar regulations in place — including more than 30 in California.

Although this is a huge step forward for animal welfare in the nation and a blow to cruel puppy and kitten mills, people will still be able to buy animals directly from breeders if they choose.

While organizations such as the American Kennel Club (ACK) claim that the bill will damage respectable breeders, animal welfare organizations maintain that any good breeder would refuse to sell their animals via a pet store.

It is hoped that this new law will help reduce the burden on animal shelters across the state, along with the taxpayers, who spend over $250 million annually on supporting these rescue centers, which are often overloaded with unwanted animals.

Puppy, kitten and rabbit mills are horrific places. The animals are squeezed into tiny wire cages, receive nutrient-deficient diets, kept in unhygienic conditions and denied the basic freedoms of socialization, veterinary care, and exercise.

Because animals are bred vigorously, inbreeding often causes physical problems that might not be picked up until later in life.

We applaud this move by California and hope that 2019 sees many other states follow their lead.