In a move which is being applauded by animal rights activists, California is officially the first state to ban puppy mills. Measure AB485 requires pet stores to sell dogs, cats, and rabbits from animal shelters, rescue groups or adoption centers. The goal? To ensure better treatment of animals and to secure homes for some of the 1.5 million animals which are euthanized across the United States each year.

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On Friday, Governor Jerry Brown signed the legislation which will go into effect January 1, 2019. Stores could be fined up to $500 for the sale of an animal that is not a rescue. Before the measure was signed, 36 cities — including Los Angeles and San Francisco — passed similar bans on mass breeding operations.

Related: South Korea’s President adopts rescue puppy, saving it from the dog meat trade

Supporters of the legislation include The Humane Society and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Both groups agree that the bill will ensure better treatment of animals, prevent unnecessary cruelty (which is prevalent among puppy mills) and promote more rescue adoptions.

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Not everyone is pleased with the development, however. Private pet store owners fear the puppy mill ban will hurt business and “limit consumer access to the most popular breeds,” reports Today. Animal rights activists argue that animal welfare is the number one priority and that the new mandate is a “win” for voiceless, defenseless pets.

Supporters of California’s new law hope it will inspire other states to pass similar legislation. After all, puppy mills — from which 99 percent of pet store puppies are sourced — are notorious for being inhumane and unsanitary. As DoSomething reports, female dogs are bred at every opportunity, which exhausts them and results in premature deaths. Plus, puppies sourced from the facilities oftentimes have bleeding or swollen paws, severe tooth decay, ear infections, dehydration, and lesions. These are but a few reasons puppy mills should be banned nationwide, and why animal lovers are celebrating California’s new law.

Via Today, DoSomething

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