Lawmakers in California recently took a big step to protect animals from greedy breeders. The landmark new law bans the sale of animals in any public venue, such as parking lots and roadways. It also bans attempts by breeders to find potential buyers over the Internet and then meet with them in a neutral location to conduct the deal. The law increases the penalties for animal neglect so that they are on par with the penalties for cruelty to animals.
We hope that the law will hinder puppy-mill operators who don’t want potential buyers to see the cramped, crude, and filthy conditions in which the animals are kept. Undercover investigations of puppy mills have documented dogs who have no protection from the heat or cold and no veterinary care and who suffer from medical conditions such as crusty, oozing eyes; raging ear infections; mange; and abscessed feet from being forced to live in wire cages. Investigators have also observed dogs who were going “kennel crazy”—frantically turning in endless circles in their tiny cages.
Another potential advantage of the legislation is to discourage opportunists who try to profit from an unexpected litter and encourage people who would give animals away “free to a good home” to instead take the animals to a reputable open-admission animal shelter. There, they will receive veterinary care, be spayed or neutered, and be placed in a pre-screened home where their needs will be met and where they will have a lower risk of being abused or neglected.
We can all work to protect animals from abuse in the pet trade by always adopting animal companions from shelters and rescue groups instead of buying from breeders and pet shops. If you spot a potentially abusive or neglectful situation, call authorities immediately. You may be the one person who can save an animal from further suffering.