Have you heard the GREAT news? Last week, California became the first state to require all pet stores to sell ONLY rescue animals (thank you, Gov. Jerry Brown). The bill, AB 485, is aimed at reducing the number of animals in shelters, as well as reducing the number of businesses with mass breeding operations (also known as "puppy mills" or "kitten factories"). This news is a mixed bag, of course, and I'm interested to see how this works "in reality," when the new legislation is in full swing by 2019. It's a great start, moving away from unscrupulous puppy/kitten mills, but the ultimate question still remains: Why must pet stores sell pets?
As I've mentioned in previous posts, my family had three lovely pet stores, "Space Coast Pets," located on the east coast of Florida. The two-story log cabin—located along US1, in Rockledge—was our pride and joy. I can't even begin to describe the hard work and long hours we all put into opening that store! We had a pretty good business model already started with our first two, smaller stores, located inside the Merritt Island and Titusville malls. But with our new stand-alone business, we wanted to be bigger and better, while remaining faithful to our pledge to NEVER sell cats or dogs!
From the get-go, we had always specialized in selling salt- and fresh-water fish, snakes, birds, pocket pets, rabbits, iguanas and other lizards, and various arachnids. And, of course, we sold all the supplies needed to take care of aforementioned pets, as well as dog and cat food, supplies, and toys. However, anyone expecting to find cats or dogs in our stores were disappointed to learn that we did not sell any. Instead, we always recommended that people check with the local shelters, to adopt!
When we opened the Rockledge store, we finally had the space to host local "adoption days," connecting local shelter pets with their future forever home families! Additionally, we had a local, low-cost, pet vaccination organization visit our store once a month, to offer their affordable services to the community. It was a huge success... we helped our local shelters and animal service friends while also making sure our business goals (selling goods) were still met.
And, I guess this is why I'm unsure of how to, exactly, react to this new legislation in California. In theory, it sounds great! Let's stop euthanizing abandoned pets and get more shelter animals into the homes they deserve. On the other hand, why are we still selling animals in stores?! Why don't ALL stores simply refuse to sell cats and dogs, instead directing their customers to the nearest rescue shelter? There is no shortage of shelter animals, unfortunately, as even the Oregon Humane Society regularly brings in animals overflowing from shelters in other states.
Long story short. Yay to California for trying to find solutions to reduce the animal shelter over-population. But, c'mon pet stores... you can still run a successful business and never have to sell a single animal in your stores! Let's cross our fingers and hope that this is a good "first step," at least.