United States law considers nonhuman animals to be property, and property rights are one of the strongest founding principles of our economic system. It would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to change the legal status of animals in such a way that would allow for laws banning their sale in retail environments. (By the way, such laws would have to be passed on the state, not federal, level.)
However, it certainly seems that for the most part, our society places a different kind of valuea higher valueon animals than we do on inanimate property. So why is it so hard to get that difference formalized into law?
“Follow the moneyany attempt to regulate animal use in any way invokes the wrath of every animal exploitation industry in the country,” explains Cori Menkin, ASPCA Senior Director, Legislative Initiatives. In addition to pet breeders, this includes the Farm Bureau, cattle ranchers, the slaughter industry, circuses and researchers. “These industries have deep pockets, and any elevation in the status of nonhuman animals is perceived as a threat to their livelihood.”
To understand why companion animals continue to be sold in stores in spite of our country’s tragically high euthanasia rate, look no further than the law of supply and demand. “American consumers want purebred puppies and kittens,” says Menkin. “Pet stores fulfill that demand in the easiest way possible by giving shoppers instant gratification. For now, the only way to get stores to stop selling animals is to make it unprofitable for them. The public needs to be educated about the horrors of puppy millswhich are where most of these animals come fromfor a real change in consumer habits to occur.”
Learn more at aspca.org/puppymills.