Recently, the American Kennel Club joined other leading pet organizations in an open letter to federal, state, and local lawmakers expressing concerns about laws that arbitrarily prohibit the responsible retail sale of purpose bred pets.
Laws that ban the responsible sale of purpose-bred pets typically repeal existing consumer protections and undermine the ability of pet owners to choose a pet that best matches their lifestyle.
The AKC believes that good pets can come from a variety of sources, including breeders, shelters, rescue and retail pet sellers. The AKC advocates for responsible dog ownership and supports strong enforcement of the federal Animal Welfare Act, state and local cruelty laws and consumer protection laws to protect the health and wellness of pets and breeding stock and to protect purchasers from unscrupulous enterprises, including those that obtain pets from substandard or irresponsible sources for resale.
The letter notes, The greatest misconception about pet stores is that they source their animals from unscrupulous, illegal breeders and distributors. In reality, responsible pet stores connect their community with reputable sources of pets they might not otherwise be able to reach. As a result, bans on pet store sales do a great disservice to pet purchasers by nullifying existing consumer protections and by hurting the breeders and distributors who are following the rules and producing quality pets. In effect, they take the most regulated sources of pets out of the market — the opposite of their intended effect of ensuring the verified conditions that healthy pets are born and raised in.
Effectively advancing responsible dog ownership and protecting pets from negligence or cruelty is a complex challenge that cannot be solved or ameliorated simply with the passage of an arbitrary law to ban the retail of purpose-bred pets.
Specific harmful consequences of pet sales bans include:
- Restrictions on consumer protection – These bills remove existing consumer protections currently available to breeder and pet store customers. Shelters and rescues are not required to meet the same standards and cannot provide the same guarantees and recourses. Rather than getting a dog of a specific breed from a professional breeder subject to federal and state animal welfare laws, customers are getting a dog with an unknown background, temperament, and health history. Also, there are rescues and transports that unfortunately do not care as diligently for the animals. This is a significant concern that can impact both the public health and the health of animals.
- Restrictions on consumer choice – These bills limit the ability of residents to select pets in a responsible manner, based on the breed, health, and temperament traits that they seek and make a good match for their lifestyle. Local residents may be wanting a quality purpose-bred pet and may not have access to a local breeder, do not want to be put on a long waiting list, etc. Instead, they may wish to purchase a dog from a regulated, licensed pet store where they can still get the consumer protections, the health history, and ongoing professional relationships they desire.
- Lack of positive impact on cruelty or negligence issues – These proposals assume that all dogs sold at pet stores have been raised in poor conditions, which is simply not accurate. Instead, they remove one of the most regulated and vetted sources of pets from the market to favor unregulated pet distributors and randomly-sourced pets that lack oversight, and actually exacerbate issues associated with irresponsible actors in the retail and retail rescue pet industry. In addition, it is important to note that while these proposals are touted as a way to put an end to “puppy mills”, fewer than 4 percent of pets purchased in the US come from pet shops.
For more information about this issue, visit AKC Government Relations key issue page on pet choice.