New bill would require pet stores to get their cats, dogs, and rabbits from shelters or rescue facilities

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- New legislation being considered in Harrisburg would prohibit the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits in pet stores that aren't from shelters or rescues. That bill passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday and is now headed to the full Senate. All but two Senators voted “yes.”

Senate Bill 1154, also known as the “Retail Sales Bill,” would require pet stores to get their cats, dogs, and rabbits from shelters or rescue facilities. Some legislators say it punishes reputable breeders, while others believe it'll help crack down on puppy mills.

An overwhelming 10-2 vote, Senators passed a bill that would protect Pennsylvanians from antibiotic-resistant infection linked to pet store puppies.

“I think this is a good bill, it definitely takes into account the inhumane conditions that animals have to live through in puppy mills, and it takes into account that there's a lot of dogs that need to be placed in homes,” Senator Guy Reschenthaler, of Allegheny County, said.

Reschenthaler said the bill would do two things: first, it would kill the market for puppy mills. Second, it would make sure that animals in shelters would get adopted.

But Senator John Eichelberger, who represents parts of Cumberland and Franklin counties, said he doesn't know how the bill would work.

“The breeders that supply dogs now have to be federally inspected to supply the dogs to a store,” Eichelberger said. “The shelters in our state are not federally inspected. If we're only allowing dogs that are sold in a store to come from rescue organizations and shelters, and they're not federally inspected, there won't be any dogs coming to stores as I understand it.”

Those in favor of the bill believe they aren't targeting reputable breeders, just the ones who are selling animals to make a profit.

“Someone that's a reputable breeder isn't going to sell to a pet store,” Reschenthaler said. “It’s just not going to happen. They just want to make money as quickly as possible.”

There’s another issue, too.

“A lot of times people purchasing pets from a pet store and they're very sick and then these kind hearted people who thought they were purchasing a healthy puppy, are stuck with massive vet bills that are well beyond what they can afford,” Kristen Tullo, PA State Director of the Humane Society of the United States, said.

The bill now goes to the senate for a vote, which could happen sometime this week.

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