Maryland pet stores are suing to block a law that will make selling commercially bred dogs and cats illegal. The law is set to take effect on January 1, 2020 and is the second state to pass such restrictions, following California.
Pet stores argue it was necessary to file a federal lawsuit, which was done on Friday, because the ban could put them out of business. The lawsuit accuses animal welfare organizations of making unfounded claims that pet stores fuel the growth of puppy mills. The defendants include the state Senate’s finance committee and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh.
Becky Schmidt, manager of Charm City Puppies, says her Columbia store is one of the plaintiffs. She stated during an interview with KTAR News that her business only use quality inspected federally regulated breeders.
“If anything, if our doors close, it’s going to force consumers to have to go to the unregulated, uninspected sources.”
Schmidt believes the new law, signed in April 2018 by Governor Larry Hogan will increase the incidence of internet pet sales where people looking to adopt a pet will fall victim to fraud and scams.
California law took effect in January 2019 that prohibits pet stores from selling dogs, cats or rabbits unless they came from an animal shelter or rescue group. This is how many states already operate in the world of pet adoption. Rescues work with retail pet stores where they have weekend adoption events.
Pet stores state the belief the ban violates the Commerce Clause saying
“The legislation’s intent to facilitate sales from local breeders discriminates against out-of-state breeders and brokers. The Maryland Pet Store Ban’s purpose is to remove Maryland from the nationwide market of pet sales in stores in hopes of eradicating the so-called puppy mill industry. However, a State may not achieve a local economic goal by isolating itself from the national economy.”
State Senator Ben Kramer sponsored the legislation during his time serving in the Maryland state House of Delegates. He believes that pet stores offering dogs for sale are keeping puppy mills in business and that it would put a dent in puppy mills to forbid sale in pet stores.
Attorney Jonathan Kagan is defending the pet stores, whose primary source of income is in the sale of pets. Kagan believes a lot of smaller pet stores will go under if they’re banned from selling pets provided by breeders.
Senior director of the Stop Puppy Mills campaign for the Humane Society of the U.S., John Goodwin, disagrees, stating “There are thousands of small independent pet stores that thrive on selling products and services.”
Just Puppies Inc and Today’s Pet Inc. are also named as plaintiffs, along with a Missouri-based commercial dog breeder. Schmidt said if the new law does go into effect in January 20 employees will lose their jobs if the store has to close and store customers will lose access to purebred pets.
Please leave a comment below on how you stand on the issue. Should pet stores be allowed to offer pets from reputable breeders or should they only be able to offer ‘rescue’ pets for adoption?