Bill Would Require Pet Stores to Sell Rescue Animals

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California could become the first state to ban the sale of animals from so-called puppy mills or mass breeding operations under legislation sent Thursday to Gov. Jerry Brown by lawmakers.

Animal rights groups are cheering the bill by Democratic Assemblyman Patrick O'Donnell to require pet stores to work with animal shelters or rescue operations if they want to sell dogs, cats or rabbit.

Thirty-six cities in California, including Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Francisco already have similar bans in place, but no statewide bans exist.

"We've actually seen a thriving pet industry based on the model of getting these from shelters," said Democratic Assemblyman Matt Dababneh of Encino.

Brown spokesman Brian Ferguson declined to comment on whether the governor plans to sign it.

Private breeders would still be allowed to sell dogs, cats and rabbits directly to individuals.

Supporters of the bill say it's aimed at encouraging families and individual buyers to work directly with breeders or to adopt pets in shelters. It also would ensure animals are bred and sold healthily and humanely, supporters said.

 Few pet stores in California are still selling animals and many already team up with rescue organizations to facilitate adoptions, according to O'Donnell's office.

"Californians spend more than $250 million a year to house and euthanize animals in our shelters," O'Donnell said in a statement. "Protecting the pets that make our house a home is an effort that makes us all proud."

 The bill would also require pet stores to maintain records showing where each dog, cat or rabbit it sells came from and to publicly display that information. A violation of the law would carry a $500 civil fine.

Meanwhile, a bill seeking to phase out fossil fuels in California's energy grid was struggling in the Assembly.

Assemblyman Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, said the bill lacks support and won't come up for a vote in the Utilities and Energy Committee that he leads. SB100 was written by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, who is pressuring the Assembly to approve the bill by Friday.

Several celebrities, including actor Leonardo DiCaprio, have tweeted their support this week.

A bill to require presidential candidates to share their tax returns to be allowed on the California primary ballot cleared the Assembly, putting it one step closer to becoming law. It now needs final approval from the Senate before going to Brown. If he signs it, California would be the first state with such a requirement after a flurry of bills in other states stalled earlier this year.

Other legislation sent to Brown Thursday would:

—Allow Californians to choose a third gender option of 'non-binary' when applying for a driver's license or other state-issued identification card.

— End a practice known as school lunch shaming, in which children are denied a meal or given an alternative if their parents fail to pay their lunch bills. Backers of the bill say children shouldn't be used as debt-collection instruments.

— Prohibit the sale of marijuana edibles shaped like a person, animal, insect or fruit. It's an attempt to prevent pot-infused sweets from appealing to children.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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