California becomes first state to ban sales from puppy mills

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (WPVI) -- California has become the first state to ban the sale of animals from puppy mills.

Gov. Jerry Brown announced Friday that he has signed a law requiring pet stores to work with animal shelters or rescue operations if they want to sell dogs, cats or rabbits. It still allows private breeders to sell animals directly.

"The problem is puppy mills and this law is specifically targeting shutting down and not supporting puppies being manufactured in unsafe, unsociable, and horrific conditions<" said Elena Bicker from Tony La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation.

This is the first statewide ban in the country. It doesn't go into effect until 2019 and while consumers will still be able to buy purebreds directly from breeders, the American Kennel Club is standing up against 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 many pet advocates are happy with the ban. Over 200 cities and counties across the country already have bans on mass breeding operations on the books.

When Albuquerque, New Mexico implemented a similar law, shelter adoptions rose by 23 percent and euthanization of pets fell by 35 percent.

"This is a great law. California is setting the standard and elevating the status of pets in society by targeting the puppy mills and elevating shelter pets as a place in homes," said Bicker.

Supporters said the state measure, AB485, ensures better treatment of animals.

The pet store industry said it removes important consumer protections.

Brown did not comment on his decision.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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