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Todd Gloria and Dr. Gary Weitzman
Assemblyman Todd Gloria and veterinarian Dr. Gary Weitzman display pups rescued from a puppy mills with the passage of Bella’s Act. Courtesy photo
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Bella’s Act will end sale of puppy mill animals

REGION — Bella’s Act, which completely prohibits the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in California, takes effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

The legislation aims to end the practice of selling animals who have been bred and raised in unhealthy, inhumane conditions in out-of-state puppy mills.

Great Danes
Great Danes were among the animals confiscated with the prohibition of the sale of puppies from puppy mills. Courtesy photo

San Diego Humane Society sponsored AB 2152, was written by California State Assemblyman Todd Gloria, now mayor of San Diego, to crack down on the “illicit and inhumane” puppy mill industry that supplies pet stores in California.

Bella’s Act was named for Bella, a corgi who was bred in one of these puppy mills.

Bella was advertised as a rescue dog in a San Diego pet store and sold for thousands of dollars – this was billed as her “adoption fee.” During this experience, Bella was declawed and developed a severe case of bronchitis. It cost her owner thousands of dollars in prolonged veterinary care to get her healthy.

Bella’s Act officially closes a loophole in AB 485, which took effect in January 2019 and made important progress but allowed those seeking to continue to profit from imported mill-bred animals to circumvent the intent of the law.

These store owners exploited a provision in the law that allowed them to sell dogs, cats and rabbits if they entered into a cooperative agreement with a shelter or rescue organization by partnering with insincere “rescues” or unsuspecting shelters.

San Diego Humane Society’s Humane Law Enforcement officers ended up citing several stores for various violations including improper signage and not having a valid cooperative agreement.

“With Bella’s Act going into effect, we’ll be able to end the inhumane retail sales of dogs, cats and rabbits in California once and for all,” said Bill Ganley, chief of humane law enforcement at San Diego Humane Society. “Pet stores will still be allowed to provide space for shelter or rescue animals and adopt them out, as long as they are sterilized and the adoption fee does not exceed $500. It is a win-win. We’ll help animals in shelters who need homes while stopping the inhumane supply of mill-bred animals.”

The ASPCA, Best Friends Animal Society, the California Animal Welfare Association, Humane Society of the United States, San Francisco SPCA and Companion Animal Protection Society also supported Bella’s Act.