SACRAMENTO, Calif. (FOX 11 / AP) - California could become the first state to ban the sale of animals from so-called puppy mills or mass breeding operations under legislation sent Thursday to Gov. Jerry Brown by lawmakers.
Animal rights groups are cheering the bill by Democratic Assemblyman Patrick O'Donnell to require pet stores to work with animal shelters or rescue operations if they want to sell dogs, cats or rabbit.
Thirty-six cities in California, including Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Francisco already have similar bans in place, but no statewide bans exist.
"We've actually seen a thriving pet industry based on the model of getting these from shelters," said Democratic Assemblyman Matt Dababneh of Encino.
Brown spokesman Brian Ferguson declined to comment on whether the governor plans to sign it.
Private breeders would still be allowed to sell dogs, cats and rabbits directly to individuals.
Supporters of the bill say it's aimed at encouraging families and individual buyers to work directly with breeders or to adopt pets in shelters. It also would ensure animals are bred and sold healthily and humanely, supporters said.
Few pet stores in California are still selling animals and many already team up with rescue organizations to facilitate adoptions, according to O'Donnell's office.
"Californians spend more than $250 million a year to house and euthanize animals in our shelters," O'Donnell said in a statement. "Protecting the pets that make our house a home is an effort that makes us all proud."
The bill would also require pet stores to maintain records showing where each dog, cat or rabbit it sells came from and to publicly display that information. A violation of the law would carry a $500 civil fine.