Maine needs to pass pet shop bill

Commentary: Crack down on animal cruelty – ban pet store sales of puppies, kittens

Passing L.D. 1311 would help Maine send an important message to other states.


OPINION Posted 4:00 AM 5/14/19

FALMOUTH — In 2015, Maine Friends of Animals and the advocacy group Maine Citizens Against Puppy Mills jointly sponsored legislation to ban the sale of dogs and cats in Maine pet shops, addressing in particular “puppy mill” suppliers. The bill passed in the Maine House and Senate and was bound to be first-in-the-nation state legislation, only to be vetoed by then-Gov. Paul LePage. With a new administration, we have submitted a similar measure this session – L.D. 1311 – and we hope to see it become law.

Since the 2015 legislation, large-scale breeding facilities have become a national issue. States and municipalities across the country have implemented or are considering similar legislation to address inhumane commercial puppy breeding.

Pet shops that continue to sell these animals are utilizing an outdated and socially unacceptable business model, becoming outliers in their own industry. They wish to obtain product at the lowest possible price to maximize profit. To keep overhead down, puppy mill operators skimp on housing, food and veterinary care. The lack of basic care at these breeding facilities is egregious and often results in poor physical and psychological health of the puppies sold to pet shops. The animals are viewed strictly as a commodity.

Dogs are social animals, and without normal human interaction, they live in loneliness, fear and stress. Those kept in commercial breeding facilities may pace back and forth in their wire cages, bark nonstop, cower or appear entirely shut down; many with psychological issues, some already half dead in spirit.

Stressful puppy mill conditions begin with the repetitive breeding of the female, the “brood bitch” in her prime, without any rest or recuperation time between litters. This is detrimental to the health of the mother and can potentially harm her puppies as well. The continuous breeding, nursing and loss of her babies – in a caged environment – is a cruel life cycle.

The first months of puppies’ lives are a critical socialization period. Spending that time with their mother and litter mates, along with slow weaning, helps prevent problems like extreme shyness, aggression, fear and anxiety. Puppies born in puppy mills are usually removed abruptly from their litter mates and mothers at very early ages, leaving long-lasting emotional and behavioral problems.

Transportation of the animals can expose them to illness and disease. At the pet store, the puppy or kitten is again put into new, unfamiliar surroundings and handled by many different people.

There are many humane and safe options in Maine offering purebred dogs and cats to loving families: local animal shelters, reputable local breeders and breed-specific rescue groups. More than 25 percent of the dogs received by animal shelters are purebred, according to a 2014 Humane Society of the United States estimate.

Sponsored by state Sen. Ben Chipman of Portland, “An Act Regarding the Sale of Dogs and Cats at Pet Shops” is important unfinished business from 2015. Please contact your state representative and state senator today and ask them to support L.D. 1311.

Maine cannot oversee the large-scale breeding industries in other states, but what Maine can do is enact legislation to stop those animals from being sold in this state and send the message that we take animal cruelty seriously.



Robert Fisk Jr. is president and director of Maine Friends of Animals in Falmouth ( and a former state legislator.




LD 1311 - Maine Humane Pet Shop Bill     



LD 1311 bans the sale of dogs and cats in pet shops — the key reasons for supporting the bill are consumer protection and the humane treatment of animals.

Maine Friends of Animals passed very similar legislation in the Maine House and Senate in the 126th legislature, but it was vetoed by the Governor. LD 1311 is important unfinished business.

Large-scale breeding facilities mass producing puppies and kittens have become a national issue with states and municipalities around the country having passed or are considering pet shop legislation.

Only 3 of Maine’s current 78 pet shops still sell animals, proving the majority of pet shops not selling animals are successful, making those staying with an outdated and socially unacceptable business model outliers in their own industry.

Puppy mill operators skimp on housing, food and veterinary care to keep overhead down. No social interaction and horrific living conditions result in animals with poor physical and psychological health. The animals are a commodity.

Maine provides humane and safe options offering purebred dogs and cats to loving families: local animal shelters, local reputable breeders, and breed-specific rescue groups. More than 25% of dogs received by Maine shelters are purebred.

This legislation is an effort to encourage the few remaining stores to consider moving from an obsolete business model into one more viable by expanding product lines and services.  

LD 1311 grandfathers the three remaining pet shops that still sell dogs and cats, but if any of the three businesses are sold, the sale of animals would be prohibited. 

Maine cannot oversee large-scale breeding industries in other states, but it can enact legislation to stop those animals from being sold here and send the message that Maine is a state that takes animal cruelty seriously.

                          Maine Friends of Animals, 190 US Route 1, Falmouth, ME


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