Success! California Becomes the First State to Ban Puppy Mills

On October 13, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law AB 485, which requires all pet stores in California to get their puppies, kitten and rabbits from rescue centers and shelters only, beginning in January 2019.

With the governor’s signature, California became the first state to enact such legislation, which strikes a strong blow to puppy mills and kitten factories.

Animal rights advocates have worked for years to expose the cruelty of puppy mills and get them shut down. Puppy mills are large breeding facilities where dogs often live in horrendous conditions, without adequate food, water or veterinary care. Over 230 cities and counties across the U.S. have already banned puppy mills, but no legislation outlawing these cruel money-making machines had been approved at the state level until California’s Pet Rescue and Adoption Act was enacted.

Assembly Members Matt Dababneh and Patrick O’Donnell introduced the bill to their legislature. The act requires pet stores offering dogs, cats or rabbits for sale to obtain these animals from an animal shelter or rescue group. The California Senate passed AB 485 by a vote of 32 – 0

This legislation could lead to shutting down numerous puppy, kitten and rabbit mills in the U.S.

After AB 485 was introduced, Care2 blogger and animal advocate Alicia Graef created a petition urging California lawmakers to pass the law and protect companion animals.

As she pointed out in her petition:

“Thousands of companion animals are killed in California shelters every year, while commercial breeders continue to mass produce more and more to meet the demand for puppies and kittens. It’s a vicious cycle that pet stores are supporting, but the state could soon end that.”

Her petition has garnered almost 70,000 signatures from Care2 activists.

The bill effectively outlaws puppy mills by prohibiting pet stores from selling puppies, kittens and rabbits that don’t come from shelters or rescue organizations. Private breeders still are permitted to sell directly to individuals.

The law, which goes into effect on January 1, 2019, also requires pet stores to maintain records showing where each animal comes from, and to display that information. A violation carries a $500 fine.

A summary and fact sheet attached to the bill explained that the law was also intended to address the minimal standards set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  For example, the federal Animal Welfare Act mandates that breeders selling puppies to pet stores must be licensed and inspected by USDA, but to meet those federal standards breeders have to provide a cage that is a miniscule “six inches larger than the animal it houses and cleaned just once a week.”

Currently, 36 cities in California, including Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Francisco, already have a similar puppy mill ban in place. Numerous pet stores across the state have adopted the proposed business model, teaming up with local rescues and shelters.

As a resident of California, I have adopted all three of my cats, Snowshoe, Jaspar and Sgt. Pepper, from shelters, so I am delighted at the leadership California has shown in the fight for dismantling puppy mills. 

A huge shout-out to all the animal advocates working hard to eliminate puppy mills, including Alicia Graef and all the Care2 members who signed her petition.

This post was updated on October 15, 2017, after Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 485. 

Care2 is stepping up efforts to shut down puppy mills across the country. Join other Care2 members to shut down puppy mills in your state or region, or start your own petition campaign. Learn more here


Photo Credit: kit


Marie W
Marie W4 days ago

Thanks for sharing

Past Member
Past Member about a month ago


Lesa D
Lesa D3 months ago

thank you, California!

thank you, Judy...

joan silaco
joan s3 months ago

Sometimes i wish NYC would be in the lead, but i welcome California to lead the way!

Elaine W
Elaine W4 months ago

CA is being a good example for other states.

Cate S
Cate S4 months ago

Thank you - good news.

One Heart inc
One Heart inc4 months ago


Laura K
Laura K4 months ago

Thank you!

heather g
heather g4 months ago

California always leads the way.

Chad A
Chad A5 months ago