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June 15, 2021

California bill would regulate hobby pet breeders

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Legislation introduced in the California Assembly this past February would mandate that all cat and dog owners in the state intending to breed their animals first obtain a permit, including owners of only one pet.

The stated intent of the Pet Breeder Humane Care Act (AB 702) is to set minimum standards of care for so-called backyard breeders who sell unhealthy cats and dogs to owners who unsuspectingly take on the financial burden of caring for them.

Proponents of AB 702 claim many of these animals end up in already-overcrowded shelters and are euthanized.

Graphic illustration: A dogs face within an outline of the State of California

The bill, introduced by Assembly Member Miguel Santiago of Los Angeles, would require all breeders to obtain a permit with higher health and safety requirements for the care of bred cats and dogs and would place limits on the number of litters per animal per year.

“We must take this next step to ensure dogs and cats are bred in a safe, healthy, and humane environment,” Santiago said in a statement. “AB 702 provides the necessary safeguards to make sure pets are able to thrive once they are with their new owners.”

The American Kennel Club opposes the measure on a number of fronts, including as an unnecessary and burdensome imposition on responsible breeders who would need a business license to comply with the law.

In a statement, the AKC said: “The breeding of dogs by small hobby breeders has traditionally been considered a residential enterprise. Many hobby breeders live in residential areas where business licenses are unavailable or operating a business as defined in this bill would force them out of compliance with HOA (homeowners association) or other local requirements.”

AB 702 is currently before the Assembly Business and Professions Committee. Santiago canceled an April hearing on the bill, and no new hearing date was scheduled as of press time in May.

The California VMA is monitoring the legislation but has no official position on the proposal, according to Dr. Grant Miller, the CVMA’s director of regulatory affairs.