Fighting for our furry friends

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Fighting for our furry friends

They are man’s best friend, the furry felines who make a house a home. Our animal companions are loved just as though they are members of our family. It’s been said that the unconditional love and loyalty of pets can lift depression, ease loneliness and even lower blood pressure. My own family recently grew in size with the adoption of two rescue dogs who bring joy, laughter and love to our lives every single day.

The benefits of animal companionship are endless, but when you know you saved your furry companion from an unpleasant fate, it makes the bond you share that much more meaningful. Unfortunately, too few people consider adoption when looking for a pet. Many choose to purchase their pets from storefront windows under the guise that they are coming from “reputable and licensed breeders.” Sadly, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

We know them as puppy mills, kitten factories and bunny bundlers: the factory-style breeding facilities located in Midwestern states notorious for putting profit above the welfare of animals. These facilities house animals in disturbingly unsanitary and overcrowded conditions, often without adequate food, water, socialization or veterinary care. Females are forced to breed at every opportunity, with little to no recovery in between litters, only to be discarded and killed when they can no longer reproduce.

The animals that do survive are plucked from their mothers much too young, only to be shipped across state lines and plopped into local pet storefronts. Unsuspecting consumers then purchase these animals believing their new family member to be healthy and genetically sound. In reality, the animals often face an array of behavioral issues and health problems due to the atrocious conditions in which they are bred and shipped. This not only results in hefty veterinary bills, but also heartbreak and emotional distress for their owners.

As more than 10,000 puppy mills throughout the U.S. continue to churn out puppies, kittens and bunnies, California taxpayers are paying a quarter of a billion dollars annually to house and kill animals in local shelters. While we may not have the authority to regulate these out-of-state facilities, we can cut off the demand for their “products.”

I have introduced Assembly Bill 485, which will help put an end to the inhumane breeding industry responsible for unhealthy animals and animal overpopulation. This legislation will ensure local pet stores in California exclusively sell dogs, cats and rabbits obtained through shelters or animal-rescue organizations. As a result, thousands of rescue animals will have the chance to get out of shelters and into storefronts, eventually finding their forever homes.

You too can join our movement to end breeding mills. In addition to sending a letter of support for AB 485, I encourage animal lovers to get involved with your local animal shelters or rescue organizations. Animal Care Services in Long Beach provides a number of volunteer opportunities, while activist groups like Friends of Long Beach Animals are fantastic resources for staying involved. You can’t buy love, but you can adopt it from an animal shelter.

Postscript: If you would like to express your support for AB 485, please visit a70.asmdc.org, or to find other state representatives, go to findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov.