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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: February 23, 2018 03:33 PM
From: Senator Guy Reschenthaler
To: All Senate members
Subject: Pet Store Sales Ban on Non-Rescue Animals
In the near future, I plan on introducing legislation that will prohibit the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits in pet stores unless sourced from shelters and rescues. This bill will also close a loophole in the outdoor sales law and require advertisers to include license numbers on their advertisements. Representative Ortitay will be introducing a companion bill in the House.

This bill will help shift the pet market towards humane sources.
It is well-documented that “puppy mills,” inhumane commercial dog breeding facilities, frequently supply pet stores with puppies. Consumers often spend thousands of dollars caring for sick puppies from pet stores, in some cases, only to suffer the heartbreak of their new pet dying. With this legislation, pet stores will partner with shelters and rescues to promote adoption and decrease the demand for the puppies raised in puppy mills. Shelters and rescues are burdened with finding families for homeless pets, thousands of whom are euthanized each year in Pennsylvania alone.

Responsible breeders, who care deeply for their dogs, will continue to provide Pennsylvanians with healthy, socialized dogs. These breeders will not be impacted by this bill because they do not sell to pet stores, as their breed clubs discourage it and demand to meet buyers in person.

Stores that sell commercially raised puppies operate based on an outdated and socially unacceptable business model, and are an outlier in their own industry. The vast majority of pet stores, including the largest and most successful chains and small mom and pop shops, do not sell puppies, proving that pet stores do not need to sell puppies to be successful.

Pets Plus Natural, with five locations in Pennsylvania, previously sold commercially raised puppies but switched to the humane model after learning of the high kill rates in shelters. To date, they have adopted out over 8,000 animals and business is thriving. The owners credit their success to having a much better reputation in the community. The Humane Society of the United States pet store conversion staff assists Pennsylvania’s puppy-selling pet stores with conversion to a humane model that does not rely on the sale of puppies from cruel mills.

More than 250 localities in the U.S., as well as the state of California, have passed similar laws.

This bill will remove a loophole in the outdoor sales law.
Under current law, a licensed kennel can sell a dog at any public place in the Commonwealth. A license does not guarantee a breeder is humane and selling healthy puppies, which is why the exemption for licensed kennels will be removed under this bill.

Purchasing a puppy at a remote location makes it impossible to see the parents of the puppies or the conditions in which they were raised—making it the perfect sales venue for unscrupulous dealers. Young puppies are often outside in the cold or blistering heat for far too long, and puppies that are not sold may simply be let loose. Moreover, consumers who end up with sick puppies have no way of contacting the breeder for additional information, reimbursement of veterinary bills, etc.

Arizona, California, Maryland, and Virginia have similar laws.

This bill will provide transparency in advertising.
By requiring those with federal, state and/or local licenses to include that license number(s) in all advertisements, consumers will be able to research licensed kennels and be alerted to unlicensed ones. Requiring license numbers will also give enforcement officers an opportunity to identify unlicensed breeders, as well as offer an extra incentive for breeders to comply with the law.

I hope you will join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation. Please contact Elise Argall in my office with any questions at 717-787-5839.

Introduced as SB1154