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California Legislature

Should California prohibit pet stores from selling animals that aren't rescues? This assemblyman thinks so

The state Capitol became a bit more adorable on Tuesday, as backers and opponents of a proposal to impose new restrictions on pet stores trotted out some furry friends to make their cases.

A bill by Assemblyman Patrick O'Donnell (D-Long Beach) would prohibit pet stores in California from selling live dogs, cats or rabbits unless the animal was obtained from a shelter or rescue group.

More than 30 cities, including Los Angeles and Sacramento, already have such ordinances on the books, which are meant to clamp down on "puppy mills" that can lead to exploitative breeding practices.

"This bill brings California into compliance with compassion and common sense," O'Donnell said at a news conference, holding a puppy from the Sacramento Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which brought along several other adoptable pups.

The bill, AB 485, cleared its first committee hurdle Tuesday. But it faces opposition from certain pet retailers, who argue such a measure is an overreach.

David Salinas, who operates four pet stores in the San Diego area, also had a puppy in tow, this one coming from a commercial breeder.

"They say all commercial breeders are puppy mills," Salinas said, after introducing his puppy to Duane Chapman, known as "Dog the Bounty Hunter," who was in town advocating against a bail reform measure.

Salinas blamed animal rights activists for giving commercial breeders a bad reputation.

"They shouldn't force that ideology on everyone," he said. 

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