How Pet Assistance Helped AB 485 Slam California’s Door on Puppy Mills

Ginger kitten, Butch, 9 weeks old, with Cavapoo pup and Lionhead rabbit.

 

PET ASSISTANCE FOUNDATION HELPS SLAM DOOR ON PUPPY MILLS

When PAF learned that Judie Mancuso, president and founder of Social Compassion in Legislation (SCIL), had persuaded California State Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell to author a bill addressing the sale of factory bred pets and promoting shelter pet adoption, PAF immediately saw its significance, and offered to do all it could to help SCIL promote State Assembly Bill 485, the Pet Rescue and Adoption Act. In brief, AB 485 will prohibit every pet store in the state from selling companion animals that do not come from rescues or shelters.

SCIL was grateful for our help. They are a smaller humane organization, and faced the well-funded opposition of national groups such at the American Kennel Club and the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council. Major humane organizations such as ASPCA, HSUS and Best Friends saw the merit of the bill, but did not believe the votes were there to pass it, and so initially withheld their support. PAF recognized Judie Mancuso’s talent and superior leadership skills, and knew well what could be accomplished through the synergy of true animal advocates working together.

Here’s what PAF did to support AB 485:

– We helped coordinate efforts to collect letters of endorsement from the 35 municipalities with similar ordinances already    in place, illustrating for the senators that this legislation works.
– PAF directors participated in numerous conference calls and strategy meetings throughout the legislative process.
– We organized, managed, and funded a phone-bank operation to contact all 1,200 pet-related retail businesses in California, then created spreadsheets by district, to show individual legislators how this bill would affect their constituents.
– We sent PAF representatives to speak at important Assembly and Senate committee meetings.
– The PAF phone bank then solicited letters of support from humane organizations throughout the state.
– We sent mystery shoppers to local pet stores, seeking information we could use should pet storeowners appear at the next committee meeting, and uncovering numerous code violations, unhealthy puppies, and shifty sales tactics in the process.
– We used social media to generate phone calls of support from concerned citizens, and invite organizations and individuals to support the bill in person at the committee hearing.
-Through social media and a special edition of our newsletter, we solicited support for SCIL and phone calls and emails to Governor Brown.

Each time the bill passed another hurdle, we rejoiced briefly, then focused on the next. The Assembly victory was sweet, with strong bi-partisan support, but various committees and suggested amendments had us biting our nails. By July, the large humane societies began to take notice of our progress, and HSUS, ASPCA and Best Friends Animal Society added their names to the list of supporters. August was quiet, but September brought a sensational Senate victory–a nearly unanimous vote in favor of passing AB 485. It was beginning to seem possible. Just one more step. Governor Brown had until October 15 to either sign or veto all pending legislation. Late in the afternoon of Friday, October 13, we knew success! Despite a crushing workload and devastating fires in Northern California, Governor Brown found time for the animals, and signed AB 485 into law.

We are grateful to our loyal supporters that we were able to play an important role in this groundbreaking legislation. Your donations made it possible, and we hope you feel good knowing your generosity helped make AB 485, the Pet Rescue and Adoption Act (and the beginning of the end of kitten, bunny and puppy mills) a reality. We hope you will trust us with your continued support–there’s so much more to do!

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