BREAKING NEWS: Federal court throws out challenge to Maryland law ending puppy mill sales in pet stores
A federal judge has dismissed a court challenge to Maryland’s landmark law prohibiting the sales of puppies and kittens in pet stores, giving animals and consumers a huge victory in the fight against puppy mills.
The ruling today means the law, which went into effect in the state at the start of the new year, remains intact and it remains illegal for Maryland pet stores to sell dogs or cats. “Protecting consumers, reducing financial support for mill breeders, and encouraging pet adoption are indisputably legitimate state interests,” Judge Ellen Lipton Hollander said in the ruling.
The lawsuit was brought by four pet stores in Maryland along with a Missouri-based puppy mill broker, Pinnacle Pet aka Sobrad LLC, and a Missouri commercial breeder. It argued that the law was unconstitutional and even went so far as to claim the stores’ chosen broker, Pinnacle, had a spotless record. This was not entirely true because Pinnacle has in fact been linked to an incident in which eight puppies died after being left in a hot truck and another incident in which puppies were found in poor conditions during transport. Our undercover Petland investigations also found some stores had sourced sick puppies from Pinnacle.
When we heard about the lawsuit, our Animal Protection Litigation team jumped to offer their assistance and expertise to the Maryland attorney general. We submitted an amicus brief supporting the state’s argument that the case should be dismissed, as it was today.
There is no reason why pet stores should be reluctant to comply with the rules that Gov. Larry Hogan signed into law in Spring 2018. The law gave puppy-selling pet stores more than a year and a half to come into compliance. Soon after it was signed, we reached out to all seven impacted stores in Maryland to offer our assistance in their transition to a new, more humane model. The HSUS has helped dozens of stores nationwide achieve such a transition through our Puppy-Friendly Pet Stores program. Large chains and mom and pop shops across Maryland that follow this model claim that the days they host adoption events are their busiest since they bring new customers to the store who are eager to take home rescue animals and buy supplies for them.
Sadly, the plaintiffs rejected our offer and instead chose to launch their long-shot legal challenge.
Three states—Maryland, California and Maine—now have laws ending the sales of puppy mill dogs and kittens in pet stores, and many more states are considering similar measures. With 341 local ordinances also ending such sales, there is no doubt our nation is moving toward a puppy-mill-free future. Today’s court ruling is the seventh of its kind nationwide by a federal court asserting that states have the authority to crack down on puppy mill sales outlets. Pet stores and puppy mills still clinging to animal cruelty should get the message loud and clear: the law is simply not on their side in this fight.