Marylanders weighing whether to take a puppy home from a pet store will receive a more complete portrait of the canine's past beginning Monday.
Under a new state law, pet stores are required to post background information on puppies for sale, including breeder details, potentially illuminating whether the dog came from a puppy mill or other environments flagged for poor conditions.
The new law also entitles pet store patrons to a refund for veterinary expenses if the puppy they purchased was sick at the time of the transaction.
|More Maryland laws that go into effect Monday|
|• Children younger than 8 years old must ride in a child safety seat unless they are 4-foot-9 or taller. The old weight requirements are no longer on the books.|
|• A driver who fails to yield to pedestrians or other vehicles at an intersection where the traffic lights are out will face a $90 fine and two points on his or her driver's license. The fine is $130 if the driver who fails to stop causes a crash.|
|• Operators of mo-peds and motor scooters must have their rides titled and insured and wear a helmet and eye protection. They must also have a valid driver's license or mo-ped/scooter permit. Violators face a fine of up to $500.|
"The best part of the law is that some basic information will have to be posted on the cages," said Tami Santelli, Maryaland director for the Humane Society of the United States. "If somebody is thinking about buying a puppy, It gives consumers more and accurate information."
It remains to be seen, however, whether the law will alter consumers' purchasing habits.
"Most puppies sold at pet stores come from puppy mills," Santelli said. "We always advise people to consider adopting from a shelter or to make sure it's from a responsible breeder."
Some Maryland pet store owners opposed the law, calling it unnecessary because they guarantee the health of the animal and ensure purchases are made from responsible breeders. The law sailed through the General Assembly earlier this year, achieving bipartisan support.
Maryland is hardly a breeding ground for puppy mills, but the state sees a steady stream of such animals from other states.
According to data compiled by the Humane Society, more than 6,000 puppies were shipped into the state from 130 federally licensed breeders between 2008 and 2009. Of those breeders, 85 had been cited for violations ranging from filthy conditions to sick and injured dogs.
The new law comes on the heels of a state court decision involving canines.
Earlier this year, Maryland's highest court ruled that pits bulls are inherently more dangerous than other breeds, seeking to hold owners liable for injuries caused by the pets. Pit bulls already are illegal in Prince George's County.