Oregon pet stores would no longer be able to sell dogs purchased from breeders under a bill being considered in the Legislature.
House Bill 4045 would require dogs sold in pet stores to come from an animal shelter, humane society, dog control district or rescue organization.
Pet stores would have to post conspicuous signs on each dog’s enclosure stating where it came from. Violators could be fined up to $500 for offering or selling non-rescue dogs.
The bill would increase adoptions of rescue dogs, the bill's cosponsor, Rep. David Gomberg, D-Otis, said. And it would filter out puppy mills — large-scale breeders who put profit over animal care.
Instead, people seeking purebreds would have to buy them directly from a breeder.
“It’s good for these dogs that are languishing in shelters," Gombert said. "And it’s good public policy. Most of these shelters, whether they are run by governments or run by nonprofits, are costing money.”
California became the first state in the nation to pass such a bill, last year. Its law, which also applies to cats and rabbits, takes effect Jan. 1, 2019.
Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Nebraska and New York are considering similar legislation.
The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council opposes all of the bills.
Mike Bober, the industry group’s president and CEO, said the proposals actually lessen protections for pet buyers.
Under federal law, pet stores must buy from registered breeders, which are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But rescue dogs don’t come with health histories or warranties, he said.
“It becomes a buyer beware situation,” he said.
And, nationwide, only 4 percent of animals that come into homes come from pet stores, he said.
“The idea that somehow you’re striking at the very heart of the breeding industry by making it impossible to buy through pet stores simply isn’t true,” he said.
Opponents also have said it would be too difficult to acquire enough animals from shelters.
Terri Ellen, who owns Nature’s Pet Market in South Salem’s Sunnyslope Shopping Center, said that’s hard to believe. The store works with local rescue organizations to adopt out animals.
“I think there are so many animals that there will always be enough to supply any pet stores,” Ellen said.
The Oregon Humane Society will testify in support of the bill.
“This bill helps drive out puppy mills by cutting off their market,” said Laura Klink, Oregon Humane Society spokeswoman.