California Law Forces Pet Stores to Sell Rescue Cats and Dogs

A stray dog and cat snuggling on a bench, waiting to be rescued

In 2019, those who purchase a dog or cat from their local pet store will also be rescuing it. A new law is requiring commercial stores to ditch the use of mass breeders and embrace animals in shelters.

Bill AB 485, also known as the Pet Rescue and Adoption Act, states that California stores must only take in and sell cats and dogs from shelters or rescue centers. The legislation, signed into law October 13 by Gov. Jerry Brown, will go into effect January 2019. While individuals can still purchase pets directly from breeders, stores found guilty of doing so could face a $500 fine, according to The New York Times.

As the first of its kind, the bill’s overall goal is to hinder “puppy mills” and “kitten factories,” which are defined as commercial breeding facilities that mass-produce animals for sale to the public, primarily through retail pet stores.

“Because pet stores are one step removed from the breeding of the animals they sell, store owners rarely know the breeding conditions of their animals,” the fact-sheet bill’s fact-sheet explains.

The ASPCA has spoken in favor of the legislation.

President and CEO Matt Bershadker told People magazine, “By prohibiting the sale of commercially bred dogs and cats in pet stores, California will cut off the supply of inhumanely bred puppies into communities across the state, and prevent consumers from unwittingly supporting this cruel industry.”

In a recent statement thanking supporters, Assemblyman and bill cowriter Patrick O’Connell said taxpayers spend more than $250 million a year “to house and euthanize” animals in California shelters. 

He concludes, “This is a win for our four-legged friends.”

Click to See Our Sources

“California Becomes First State to Require Pet Stores Sell Rescue Animals Only,”, 10/17

“California Set to Become First State to Ban All Puppy Mill Pet Store Sales” by Kelli Bender, People,, 9/15/17

“California Tells Pet Stores Their Dogs and Cats Must Be Rescues,” by Jacey Fortin, The New York Times,, 10/16/17

Fact Sheet, by Matt Dababneh and Patrick O’Donell. AB 485: Pet Rescue and Adoption Act, California State Government, 2017


Pamela Bump

Pamela is the Audience Growth Manager for the HubSpot Blog and holds an M.S. in Media Ventures from Boston University. Before HubSpot, she was Taste for Life’s first Web Editor & Social Media Expert and Harvard Business Review’s first Growth Editor.  In her roles, she’s managed content strategy, social media, and audience growth tactics.

Although her career is focused on digital marketing and editorial innovation, she continues to write for TFL to quench her thirst for food blogging and health journalism.