The Maryland state legislature has voted overwhelmingly to pass a bill banning the sale of puppy mill dogs in pet stores. The bill now heads to Gov. Larry Hogan for his signature, and we are urging him to build on his strong animal welfare record and join the legislature in sending the message that Maryland will not tolerate the kind of misery and suffering that puppy mills create.
The bill, sponsored by Del. Ben Kramer, a longtime champion for animals, passed the House unanimously over the weekend, and the Senate without a single “no” vote on Friday. It encourages Maryland pet stores to partner with animal shelters and rescues. Maryland will be the second state in the nation to pass such a ban, following California, which passed a similar ban last year.
Hundreds of pet stores in Maryland already refuse to sell dogs, including the largest and most successful chains and mom-and-pop shops. Ninety-three pet stores in the state have signed the HSUS’s Puppy-Friendly Pet Stores Pledge declaring they do not sell puppies and will not do so in the future. A statewide ban on the sale of puppies will ensure all Maryland pet stores adopt this puppy-friendly business model.
Relying on the sale of puppies from inhumane sources is an outdated and socially unacceptable strategy. Stores are far better off focusing on any other category of the $69 billion pet market, such as pet food, products, and services, all of which saw an increase in sales last year. Live animal sales is the only category that isn’t on the rise, and the American Pet Products Association predicts it will continue to decline in the future.
We expect this momentum away from puppy mills and toward adopting pets from rescues and shelters to continue, as more and more states enact similar legislation. Lawmakers in New York, Rhode Island, Illinois, and Pennsylvania are considering similar legislation this year, and more than 250 localities across the nation have enacted laws prohibiting the sale of commercially raised dogs in pet stores.
Some states, on the other hand, like Florida and Georgia, made attempts to buck the trend by taking up bills that would have preempted local laws regulating pet stores. But the Humane Society of the United States and our allies fought off these well-funded attacks, leaving the industry with nothing to show for its efforts.
There is incredible momentum on this issue. The biggest battle is now in Ohio, the nation’s second largest puppy mill state, where volunteers are collecting signatures to place the Ohio Puppy Mill Prevention Amendment on the 2018 ballot. This measure would ensure that breeding facilities that have more than eight breeding female dogs be subject to greater oversight, as well as other common-sense standards for breeding dogs. To learn how to get involved, visit the campaign website. And, if you live in Maryland, please call Gov. Hogan and urge him to sign HB 1662.