After a year of debate, the city council of Cambridge, Massachusetts approved an ordinance banning the retail sale of commercially-bred cats, dog, amphibians, birds, reptiles, arachnids, hamsters, and gerbils on Monday.

The ordinance will go into effect next year and is aimed at the commercial animal breeding industry, one known for inhumane and irresponsible behavior. It follows a similar law passed in Boston last year banning the retail sale of commercially bred cats, dogs and rabbits, along with a recently approved ordinance in Stoneham, Massachusetts banning the sale of cats and dogs from puppy and kitten mills.

This sweeping ban is perhaps the most comprehensive in the nation. “It’s really a landmark ordinance,” said Laura Hagen, deputy director of advocacy for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “High-volume production is what’s driving the business model… At our adoption centers we have seen a very large influx of these very small animals and birds.”

The ordinance allows pet shops to work with local rescue organizations and shelters to help customers adopt pets. There are around 70 million stray animals in the United States. From that number, 6 to 8 million enter the shelter system each year and only about half of those animals end up adopted into homes. This landmark decision may increase the number of needy animals adopted from shelters every year.

Efforts like The Shelter Project encourage adopting animals from shelters and rescues rather than from breeders or pet stores. If you are interested in adopting an animal from a rescue or shelter, check out petfinder.com and The Humane Society to find a shelter near you. These websites help you sort between cats, dogs, rabbits, and more to find your ideal animal companion.

Always remember, “Adopt, don’t shop!”

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