Maryland Law Banning Puppy Mills Gets Challenged in Court

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Last year, Maryland became the second state in America —the first being California — to prohibit retail pet stores from selling puppies and kittens.

Animal rights advocates argue that this ban will help lower demand for dogs born in “puppy mills.”

Pet stores  pushed back against this law arguing that they use responsible breeders and believe that lawmakers and animal rights advocates’ descriptions of these breeders as “puppy mills” is inaccurate.

Now, the puppy shops are doubling down by filing a lawsuit on Aug. 23, 2019 in the U.S. District Court of Maryland. According to a report from WUSA9, these stores argue that the “No More Puppy-Mill Pups Act” is unconstitutional, because it “discriminates against interstate commerce” from out-of-state breeders.

Under Article I Section VIII of the U.S. Constitution, better known as the Commerce Clause, Congress has the constitutional authority to “regulate commerce … among several states.” The lawsuit’s main point is that the 2018 Maryland law, which is slated to go into effect on January 1, 2020, is in violation of the federal Commerce Clause.

The No More Puppy-Mill Pups Act bolsters previous regulations in Maryland, and prevents Maryland puppy shops from purchasing dogs from out-of-state breeders. Republican Governor Larry Hogan signed this bill into law on April 24, 2018.

The 2018 law’s goal was to create more human animal treatment and reduce the influence of large-scale puppy mills. However, pet stores argue that the lack of out-of-state competition would force some stores to close.

The lawsuit stated:

“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. (City of Philadelphia v. New Jersey, 437 U.S. 617, 624 (1978). Therefore, the Maryland Pet Store Ban discriminates against out-of-state breeders and brokers in its purpose.”

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The pet stores also point out that this law does nothing to keep individuals from buying dogs directly in unregulated marketplaces online or from other breeders on the black market.

“The new ban on the sale of pets will effectively shift the sale of puppies from regulated retail pet stores to unregulated marketplaces, such as throughout the internet,” the lawsuit claimed.

Just Puppies Inc., Charm City Puppies, LLC, Today’s Pets Inc., puppy broker Sobrad, LLC, and breeder Jodie Hancock are the plaintiffs involved in this case.



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