California Pet Adoption Update

Shelter Animals Get Some Legislative Help

Every new calendar year brings in a list of new laws that go into effect around the United States, and California is no different in that regard for 2019.  According to CBS’s Bay Area affiliate, 1,016 new laws went into effect in the state as of January 1.  It’s easy to miss a lot of these changes, but for dog lovers that include the Orange County dog bite lawyers at Montevideo Law, one new requirement that’s now in effect is not only welcome, but something we embrace:  California pet stores that sell dogs, cats or rabbits must source them from animal shelters or nonprofit animal rescue groups.  This will not only save the lives of an enormous number of animals that otherwise would have been euthanized, but it could also help alleviate the extreme crowding problems in shelters that already exist across the state.

An Overview of the California Pet Store Sales Law

Section 122354.5 of the Health and Safety Code was amended to ban the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits by pet stores from what are commonly known as “puppy mills” due to public pressure that was rising from several different fronts.  In addition to limiting the source of pet stores’ inventory, the new law also requires:

  • Each pet store must maintain records sufficient to document the origin of each animal for at least one year.
  • Each pet store shall conspicuously post which organization provided a particular animal.
  • Each pet store must maintain written records of every animal’s health, status, and disposition for at least two years after the sale.
  • Each pet store must provide a prospective purchaser a copy of the animal’s veterinary records.

The pet store can face a fine of $500 for every animal that’s sold in violation of this new law.  In essence, California consumers can feel confident that if they purchase a pet from a pet store in the state, they’re not getting one from a mill.

A Positive Development

A law that gives shelter animals a second chance at a happy life is one that is worthwhile.  One look at the statistics regarding shelter animals and euthanasia in the United States should help to explain such a position.  According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or the ASPCA:

  • Approximately 6.5 million animals enter shelters across the United States every year.
  • More than 3 million entrants are dogs and more than 3 million are cats.
  • Approximately 1.5 million shelter animals per year are euthanized in the United States.
  • More than 650,000 of these euthanized animals are dogs and more than 850,000 are cats.

While these are clearly troubling numbers, a closer look reveals that things do appear to be trending in a positive direction.  The ASPCA also states that:

  • The number of shelter animals euthanized has been declining annually in the United States since 2011.
  • The highest level reached was 2.6 million animals euthanized that year.
  • More than 3 million shelter animals are adopted in the United States every year.
  • More than 700,000 stray animals are returned to their owners.

It seems as though American society is beginning to understand that shelters are a primary option for finding a companion animal.  We hope that trend continues, and it seems as though this new law will help.

California Pet Store Sales Law – A Word of Caution

While our team of Orange County dog bite lawyers is supportive of this law, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t still reason to be somewhat cautious in certain respects if you’re going to be purchasing a dog, cat, or rabbit from a pet store that will now be offering them from a shelter or rescue organization.  There are certain risks involved with adding a rescue animal to a family, and a few examples of those potential risks include:

  • Lack of documentation – Even if a rescue organization and a pet store make a good-faith effort to document an animal’s history, it’s still possible to miss certain health conditions or genetic predispositions.
  • Unknown pasts – Obviously, the biggest unknown with regards to adopting a pet is that the new owner cannot possibly understand every aspect of an animal’s former life.  While shelters and rescue organizations are very good at detecting prior abuse or other forms of mistreatment, it’s still possible for an animal that’s been abused to wind up in a difficult situation through no one’s fault.
  • Behavioral problems – There are certain types of behavioral problems that can be difficult to recognize based on the nature of keeping and caring for rescue animals.  For instance, dogs can be food-aggressive, and that can be particularly dangerous in a family with small children or other pets.  Despite shelters’ best efforts to identify this problem, it doesn’t always show itself in that setting.
  • Fear – It’s impossible for humans to fully comprehend the fear that many rescue dogs encounter and face every day.  This fear can manifest itself in unpredictable ways, and it can take time for new owners to discover all of these issues.

Ideas For a Successful Rescue, Adoption or Purchase

In the vast majority of situations, the effort required to bring a rescued animal home is more than worthwhile.  A few ideas to keep in mind should you add a pet to your home include:

  • Vibe – Above all else, make sure that you remain calm and at peace when spending time with your new dog, as dogs can sense tension and stress and some will react to it, particularly if it’s already dealing with the fear of a new situation.
  • Control your meetings – Allow your new dog to meet each person in your home individually, outside the home.  This will help keep the dog from feeling overwhelmed.
  • Walk the line – Spend time with your new dog on a leash, walking it around outside so it gets to know its new territory.  Show it the bathroom spot or spots you prefer and reward it for using them.
  • Walk the line inside – Do the same thing inside the home, making sure to show it the home in a calm, measured manner.
  • Regular bathroom breaks – Bring your new dog outside on a leash every couple of hours, and walk it to the preferred bathroom spot.  Dole out proper rewards.
  • Establish a routine – Dogs can be stressed when they’re not sure what’s coming next.  When moving to a new home, the easiest way around this stress is to put together a regular routine of feeding, bathroom breaks, walks and together time and to stick to it closely.

Irvine & Orange County Dog Bite Attorneys

Our California team of Irvine dog bite lawyers hopes that this new law leads to the positive results going forward.  We hope to someday see animal shelters turn into animal play areas for them and their owners, as that would mean that shelters are no longer necessary. If you have any questions about these updates or need experienced legal guidance for your dog bite claim, contact us at (949) 404-4455 or fill out our convenient online consultation request.