Several pets stores in Maryland have filed a lawsuit to block a state law that will prevent them from selling commercially bred dogs and cats.
Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, signed the legislation into law in April 2018.
The first law of this kind took effect in California in January. The law makes it illegal for pet stores to sell a dog, cat or rabbit unless it came from an animal shelter or rescue group.
Maryland’s law encourages animal welfare organizations to work together with retail pet stores to showcase cats and dogs for adoption or purchase from local breeders.
State Sen. Ben Kramer said that retail sales of dogs and cats are what’s keeping puppy mills afloat.
“The puppy mills are just absolutely disgusting and barbaric,” Kramer said. “The puppy mills don’t exist without the retail stores that sell them.”
The new law is set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2020. The pet stores are concerned that the ban will run them out of business. They said that animal welfare organizations have made unfounded claims that pet stores are encouraging the growth of puppy mills.
The lawsuit also alleges that the ban will shift the sale of puppies from regulated retailers to unregulated sources.
“Internet pet sales have a notoriously high incidence of fraud and scams which will only increase against Maryland residents once the ban takes effect,” the suit says.
“The Maryland pet store ban’s purpose is to remove Maryland from the nationwide market of pet sales in stores in hopes of eradicating the so-called puppy mill industry. However, a State may not achieve a local economic goal by isolating itself from the national economy,” the suit adds.