Model Laws

Banning the Sale of Cats, Dogs and Rabbits in Pet Stores


Read Commentary


Sec. 1. Rationale

Every year, millions of cats, dogs and rabbits sold in pet stores are born in large-scale commercial breeding facilities where their health and welfare is not adequately addressed. It is estimated that more than 10,000 puppy mills operate in the United States and that most pet store puppies, kittens and many pet store rabbits come from puppy mills, kitten mills, and rabbit mills, respectively. The documented abuses of puppy and kitten mills include over-breeding, inbreeding, minimal or no veterinary care and a lack of adequate food, water, shelter, socialization and adequate space. In addition, unsold animals are either routinely euthanized or dumped in animal shelters or animal control facilities. Inhumane conditions in puppy and kitten mill facilities can lead to health and behavioral issues with animals, which many consumers are unaware of when purchasing animals from retailers. However, these health and behavioral issues can impose significant financial and emotional costs on consumers, who may not know of these problems for months or even years after their purchase. Removing a market for these animals is the best way to combat the overbreeding and sale of unhealthy animals for the sake of the animals and for the sake of consumers who purchase them.


Sec. 2. Definitions

    (a) Animal Control Authority: A governmental entity that is responsible for animal control operations within its jurisdiction.


    (b) Animal Rescue Organization: Any non-for-profit organization that has tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, that is licensed and inspected by state or local authorities and whose mission is, in whole or significant part, the rescue of animals and the placement of those animals in permanent homes but does not breed animals.


    (c) Animal Rescue Shelter: Any non-for-profit organization which has tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and is licensed and inspected by state or local authorities which

    1. accepts animals into a physical facility;
    2. is devoted to the rescue, care and adoption of stray, abandoned, unwanted or surrendered animals;
    3. places animals in permanent homes or with animal rescue organizations; and
    4. does not breed animals.

    (d) Certificate of Source: A document that includes the name, address and telephone number of the original source of a cat, dog or rabbit. The certificate shall be signed by the purchaser or transferee of the animal acknowledging the receipt of the certificate and shall include the breed, color, age and approximate weight of the animal at the time of acquisition.


    (e) Pet Store: Any retail establishment, or operator thereof, which displays, sells, delivers, offers for sale, barters, auctions, gives away or otherwise transfers companion animals. This definition does not apply to animal control authorities, animal shelters or animal rescue organizations.


    (f) Pet Store Operator: A person or business entity who owns or operates a pet store.


Sec. 3. Prohibition of Sale in Pet Shops

A pet shop shall not sell, deliver, offer for sale, barter, auction, give away or otherwise transfer or dispose of a cat, dog or rabbit.


Sec. 4. Exception

Nothing in section 2 shall prohibit pet stores from collaborating with animal shelters, animal rescue organizations and animal control authorities to offer space for such entities to showcase adoptable cats, dogs and rabbits inside pet stores. The following restrictions shall apply to animals showcased for adoption in pet stores:


(a) Cats, dogs and rabbits showcased for adoption shall not be younger than 8 weeks old.


(b) Dogs showcased for adoption shall not be kept overnight at a pet store.


(c) Cats and rabbits showcased for adoption shall not be kept overnight at a pet store without provision for care and monitoring outside of pet store business hours.


Sec. 5. Certificate of Source

For animals that are showcased for adoption under subsection 3, a pet store shall post and maintain a Certificate of Source in a conspicuous place on the cat, dog or rabbit’s kennel, cage or enclosure. The following principles apply to Certificates of Source under this section:


(a) A Certificate of Source shall be provided to the adopter of any cat, dog or rabbit.


(b) Certificate of Source records for each cat, dog or rabbit shall be maintained by a pet store for at least one year from the last date that a cat, dog or rabbit appeared in the store.


(c) Pet stores shall make Certificates of Source immediately available for review upon the request of a law enforcement officer or animal control authority.


(d) Falsification of a Certificate of Source shall be deemed a violation of this section.


Sec. 6. Penalties

A pet store operator who violates this section commits a civil violation, punishable for a fine not to exceed $500 per animal, per day or imprisonment in jail not to exceed 120 days, or both a fine and imprisonment.




Additional Commentary

Millions of cats, dogs and rabbits sold in pet stores every year are born in large-scale commercial breeding facilities, commonly known as kitten mills or catteries, puppy mills and rabbit mills, where their health and welfare is not adequately addressed. While there are many local governments who have created bans on pet shop sales in order to combat this massive problem, there are currently no comprehensive state or federal laws that address this issue.


These mass breeding facilities breed kittens, puppies and rabbits in a manner that puts economic profit over the welfare of the animals. The animals are usually housed in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions with cages frequently stacked one on top of another, with feces falling to the cage below. Females are overbred and the inbreeding of closely related animals can cause significant genetic defects in their offspring. Moreover, these animals are usually provided with little or no veterinary care, lack adequate nutritious food, water and shelter, and lack socialization and exercise that are essential for all animals, especially young kittens, puppies and rabbits.


The inhumane conditions in mass breeding facilities lead to health and behavioral issues which many future pet owners are unaware of when purchasing animals from pet stores. The new owners may not be aware of health issues until well after the purchase of their pet and may face exorbitant financial and emotional costs due to veterinary treatment and even the death of a newly adopted animal.


Pet stores nationwide are able to operate profitably by focusing on the sale of pet food, toys and supplies without selling cats, dogs and rabbits from mass breeding facilities. In addition, pet stores can collaborate with local animal shelters and rescue organizations to offer space for showcasing adoptable homeless pets on their premises. Thousands of animals a year find their forever homes through these collaborations, which are mutually beneficial to pet stores and animal shelters.


Because of over population, over a million cats and dogs are euthanized each year. Additionally, many pet rabbits are rendered homeless when they are gifted to individuals who later abandon them after their "novelty" has worn off. Restricting the retail sale of cats, dogs and rabbits will increase the demand to adopt animals from animal shelters and rescue organizations, which will in turn help more shelter animals find loving homes. It will also reduce the number of pets that are gifted to owners who may not want them and who may not be knowledgeable about the care and cost of keeping a companion animal. Finally, it would reduce the financial burden on taxpayers for the care and euthanasia of unwanted animals left at an animal control facility, or picked up by animal control agents because they are abandoned.



Best Friends Animal Society


Humane Society of America"


The Puppy Mill Project






ROSEVILLE, MN (Enacted March 2017; Effective September 2017)


WARRENVILLE, IL CITY CODE §§ 3-25-1 to 3-24-5 (2016).



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