California’s New Pet Law: Pets Must Be Rescues

In a blow to commercial animal breeders and brokers, California pet stores will soon have to get their puppies, kittens and rabbits from shelters and rescue centers only. Individuals can still buy from private breeders. But beginning in January 2019, it will be illegal for stores to do so. Violators will face a fine of $500.” J. Fortin, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

SPCA Value of Adoption

Excerpt: California Tells Pet Stores Their Dogs and Cats Must Be Rescues By Jacey Fortin, The New York Times

“The bill, A.B. 485, had strong support from several animal welfare organizations, which cheered it as a blow to “puppy mills” and “kitten factories” that mass produce animals for sale, often in inhumane conditions. It was written by two California Assembly members, Patrick O’Donnell and Matt Dababneh, both Democrats, and signed into law on Friday by Gov. Jerry Brown.


California is the first state to pass such legislation, though it is following dozens of its own cities and jurisdictions, which have passed similar measures on a smaller scale…Opponents of the measure argued that the bill painted large ‘puppy mills’ and responsible backyard dog breeders with the same broad brush.

Animals wait for adoption. Daily Herald

Mike Bober, the president of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, a national advocacy group, called it ‘well-intentioned but misguided’ in a video last month, adding that it would jeopardize hundreds of jobs.

Ben Ashel’s store specializes in tiny dog breeds including teacup Yorkies and toy Maltipoos said he was not sure what he would do once the law comes into play.

After the bill easily passed in California’s Senate and Assembly last month, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals praised the state for taking action where federal regulators had fallen short.

Because pet stores are one step removed from the breeding of the animals they sell, store owners rarely know the breeding conditions of their animals.

‘By cutting off the puppy mill pipeline that moves cruelly bred animals from across the country into California pet stores, A.B. 485 will also help prevent California consumers from being duped into purchases that contribute to unconscionable animal ‘production’ and suffering,’ the organization said in a statement.

Adopt a pet blog

But Ben Ashel, a pet store owner in Agoura Hills, Calif., said the new law might have unintended effects by motivating more consumers to order dogs online or find sneakier ways to acquire the breeds they want…They just want to start fresh with a puppy, and this law makes it very, very difficult.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Level: Intermediate -Advanced

Language Skills: Reading, writing, speaking and listening. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.

Time: Approximately 2 hours.

Materials: Student handouts (from this lesson) access to news article, and video.

Objective:  Students will read the article with a focus on reading comprehension and new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through discussions, and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Have students  examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Pet stores are one step removed from the breeding of the animals they sell.
  2. In many cases, puppy mills house animals in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions.
  3. Many times there is not adequate food, water, socialization or veterinary care.
  4. The number of for-profit pet stores in California has been dwindling.
  5. Still, Mr. Jang said he understood lawmakers’ intentions.
  6. Their heart is in the right place, but their thinking is a little shortsighted.
  7. Cruelly bred animals from across the country will move into California pet stores.
  8. One store, Puppy Heaven, specializes in matching owners with tiny dogs.
  9. Some people need breeds that work well with children or accommodate allergies.
  10. The new law might have unintended effects by motivating more consumers to order dogs online.

Reading Comprehension


Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences  taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

It takes the___of choice from___who want to get a puppy. They don’t want to get someone else’s ___dog or something of that nature, he said, adding that some people need ___that work well with or accommodate___and other health issues.

WORD LIST:  allergies breeds, unwanted,   people, freedom, children

Grammar Focus

Word -Recognition

Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

His stye/store, Puppy Heaven/Haven, specializes in matching/moving owners with teeny/tiny dogs — teacup Yorkies and toy Maltipoos — and has a celebrity clientele. He said he was not sure what he would do once the law/lawyer comes into affect/effect.

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them  discuss the following statements. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. Do you own a pet?  Where did you get them from?
  2. In your opinion, what are the advantages of California’s new law? What are the disadvantages?
  3. Do you think all pet stores should only get animals from shelters? Why or why not?
  4. In your opinion, which places are the safest to obtain a pet?


Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.


Category: Animals