Yesterday, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) of Maryland signed HB 1662, a piece of legislation that will make Maryland the second state in the US to prohibit the sale of puppies and kittens in pet stores. Animal rights advocates hope that this bill will help bring an end to puppy mills.
HB 1662 states that retail pet stores can no longer sell puppies or kittens. “A retail pet store may not offer for sale or otherwise transfer or dispose of cats or dogs.” They are, however, encouraged to connect with animal welfare organizations and animal control units in order to offer pets that are available for adoption. The bill specifies, “This section may not be construed to prohibit a retail pet store from collaborating with an animal welfare organization or animal control unit to offer space for these entities to showcase cats or dogs for adoption.”
While this is a monumental step forward in the fight against puppy mills and pet stores that sell puppies from puppy mills, the fight against these large-scale breeding operations is not over yet.
According to the Washington Post, those who opposed the bill argued that the bill would limit a consumer’s access to purebred puppies, which means they could to turn to the internet to purchase pets. Owners of the affected pet stores argue that this can be extremely problematic in the fight against inhumane breeding practices because the internet is notoriously difficult to regulate.
The Better Business Bureau released a study in 2017 specifically dealing with online pet sale scams. The study stated, “BBB ScamTracker contains 907 reports on this type of fraud, which is 12.5% of all their complaints involving online purchase fraud.” They also said, “An internal report the Federal Trade Commission prepared in 2015 found some 37,000 complaints that refer to issues involving pets, and the vast majority of those are believed to be pet sales scams.”
It comes down to educating consumers on best practices when it comes to finding pets. And since HB 1662 is not set to be fully implemented until 2020, there is time to work towards a comprehensive and positive plan that will help pet parents connect with the perfect pet of their dreams, without fueling the puppy mill industry.
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