California becomes 1st state to require pet stores to sell rescue animals

The increased protections and statewide ban will go into effect in 2019.

— -- California will soon implement a new statewide ban on sales of animals commercially raised in puppy mills.

The law will go into effect in 2019 and supporters have praised the move.

"The problem is puppy mills, and this law is specifically targeting shutting down and not supporting puppies being manufactured in unsafe, unsociable, and horrific conditions," Elena Bicker, executive director at Tony La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation, told ABC News.

Private breeders can still sell animals independently.

The American Kennel Club is standing up against the first-of-its-kind statewide ban and released a statement directly opposing the new law.

"It not only interferes with individual freedoms, it also increases the likelihood that a person will obtain a pet that is not a good match for their lifestyle and the likelihood that that animal will end up in a shelter," the organization said in a statement.

Pet advocates have helped increase protections for puppy mill dogs in over 200 cities and counties across the country that already have ordinances similar to this one, according to the Humane Society of the United States. The animal rights group also created a campaign in partnership with the Pincause organization to raise awareness about puppy mills and help promote the adoption of shelter animals.

Thirty-six cities in California, including Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, already had bans on mass breeding operations.

"This is a great law. California is setting the standard and elevating the status of pets in society by targeting the puppy mills and elevating shelter pets as a place in homes," Bicker said.

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