Is the black market for designer breeds growing in California?

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Ever since California voted to keep commercially bred animals out of pet shops, a sinister threat has been warned of by those who first criticized the measure.

If the commercial breeders can’t do business with pet stores, they’ll just create their own black market.

The commercial breeder ban doesn’t go into effect until 2019, NPR reports, but groups like the American Kennel Club are already raising concerns. Restricting the number of purebred dogs at pet stores could drive people elsewhere to find the dog that fits their specific needs and desires. In some cases, that could mean unregulated breeders.

Source: Pixabay

Source: Pixabay

Others claim that this is a step in the right direction and will give countless shelter pets a better chance at finding a forever home.

The ASPCA estimates that about 6.5 million dogs and cats are taken in by U.S. shelters evey year, with only 710,000 of them returned to their owners. At least 1.5 million of the remaining animals are euthanized.

Source: Pexels

Source: Pexels

Less than half of those animals that enter shelters ever find new homes, and in the U.S. alone, there are at least 1.7 million currently hoping they’ll be on the better side of that statistic.

Some pet shop owners have aligned their business practices with the new law, happily selling rescue pets to caring pet parents, instead of those from commercial breeders. Shops like Bark n’ Bitches, NPR reports, are giving homeless dogs a second chance at life.

“We’re a humane pet shop,” store manager Jeana Alessio says. “So we rescue dogs from the high-kill shelters. We get calls just about every other day.”

Many of the animals that wind up at shelters came from commercial breeding facilities, anyway, the Pasadena Humane Society maintains. Julie Bank, president and CEO of the animal shelter, told NPR that at least 25 percent of the animals they take in have been purebred.

That typically means someone bought the animal from a breeder then realized they couldn’t care for it properly.

“It’s a pretty sad industry, a pretty abusive industry,” Bank says. “The consumers out there need to know, most of the times you were buying an animal you were supporting this industry rather than supporting the lives of an animal which are breathing living creatures that need our help and support.”


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Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee. Find more about Matthew on his personal website.