A bill banning the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits from unscrupulous breeding facilities at pet stores in Pennsylvania has moved out of committee and onto the floor of the state Senate.
The bill gained new traction, according to a spokesman for the Pennsylvania wing of the Humane Society of the United States, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report tying breeding facilities for the spread of Campylobacter, an antibiotic-resistant infection that can affect humans.
The issue, “and the declining efficacy of antibiotics because of overuse in the commercial pet industry,” has become a driving motivator for the bill, John Goodwin, senior director of the Humane Society’s Stop Puppy Mills Campaign, said in an email Wednesday.
Campylobacter, according to the CDC, can cause bloody diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, fever and abdominal cramps in people who contract it.
“Cutting off the puppy mill to pet store pipeline is the right thing to do for animals and consumers,” Kristen Tullo, state director for the Humane Society, said Tuesday.
A recent outbreak of Campylobacter, she said, “underscores that puppy-selling pet stores pose serious risks to both humans and animals.”
Won’t affect ‘responsible breeders’
Lancaster County is notorious for its puppy mills. In 2017, the Humane Society included seven local dog-breeding facilities on a list of the 100 worst mills in the nation.
Senate Bill 1154 is sponsored by state Sen. Guy Reschenthaler, a Republican representing portions of Allegheny and Washington counties.
It was sent to the full Senate by the judiciary committee on Tuesday after a 10-2 vote.
The legislation, if approved, would require pet stores to sell animals that come from shelters and rescue organizations, not breeders.
The law would not affect “responsible breeders,” lawmakers have said, because they do not sell to pet stores.
According to a draft of the bill, “a significant number of puppies, kittens and rabbits sold at pet stores come from large-scale, commercial breeding facilities, puppy mills, kitten mills and rabbit mills, where the health and welfare of the animals are not adequately addressed.”
Further, the bill states, “the documented abuses endemic to puppy mills, kitten mills and rabbit mills include overbreeding, inbreeding, minimal to nonexistent veterinary care, lack of adequate and nutritious food, water and shelter, lack of socialization, lack of adequate space and lack of adequate exercise.”
People who unwittingly buy pets from pet stores are likely unaware of the “health and behavioral issues” common to mill-bred pets, the bill states — often leading to costly veterinary care.
A House version of the bill — House Bill 2601, sponsored by state Rep. Jason Ortitay — also would ban the sale of pets at outdoor venues, such as flea markets.
Similar laws have been passed in Maryland and California. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh also have approved similar ordinances at the municipal level.