Maryland just took a big step in the world of animal rights, joining a very short list of states to ban retail stores from selling dogs and cats. California is the only other state to have taken such action, with the goal of reducing the number of animals being acquired from puppy mills.
The Governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, signed the legislature about a month ago but it wasn’t widely accepted. Several affected pet stores are pushing back, fearing a substantial financial impact on their respective businesses. The owners also claim that after the law goes into full effect in 2020, buyers won’t have nearly as many options for purchasing purebred dogs. While purebreds can be found via the internet, the owners claim that online sales are frequently fraudulent and much harder to regulate.
Many of the smaller pet store owners have said that they frequently visit the locations of their breeders and that they maintain superior conditions for their puppies. Owners who have been in business for many years claim that they, under no circumstances, want animals acquired from puppy mills and that they could not have remained in business for as long as they have if they were selling puppy mill puppies.
The protests had little effect on the governor, though, who, along with other representatives of the state, feel that any commercial breeder that supplies stores with animals simply does not have room for the dogs to roam and play.
Eyewitnesses were called upon to testify for both sides of the argument. One former employee at a pet store that will be affected by the law said that she often saw animals arrive at the store that were malnourished and infested with parasites and fleas. This same pet store apparently works with a breeder who has been cited several times with USDA violations.
On the other side, a veterinarian who often treats animals from the same pet store testified that in 12 years he has not seen any major differences from dogs acquired through commercial breeders and those acquired at shelters and private breeders.
Time will tell just how big the impact will be on pet stores, and perhaps amendments to the law will be initiated. The important thing is that a “happy medium” is only happy if it falls in line with the best interests of the animals, themselves.