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Maine Bill Aims to Prevent Sale of Animals Bred in 'Puppy Mills'

AUGUSTA, Maine - Animal advocates and pet store owners were among those who filled a legislative hearing room to testify on a bill that would ban the sale of cats and dogs by pet stores, unless the animals were born and raised at the same store.

Democratic Rep. Kimberly Monahan, from Cape Elizabeth, sponsor of the bill, says the legislation is aimed at stopping pet stores from bringing in animals bred in so-called puppy mills.

"By allowing Maine pet stores to sell puppies and kittens we enable and support out-of-state puppy mills," Monahan said, "thereby promoting the inhumane treatment of companion animals."

Several people testified about the horrific conditions at some puppy mills. But opponents of the legislation argued that it will take away consumer choice and possibly cost jobs. George Arthur is the manager of a Windham pet store.

"What is most disturbing about LD 335 is that it robs people of their right to choose where they get their pet," Arthur said. "Shelters and rescues are necessary, but they should not be the only place to but a pet. Choice is truly the American way."

The Director the of the state's Animal Welfare Program, Liam Hughes, testified neither for nor against the bill, but told lawmakers that few of the 78 licensed pet stores in the state sell cats or dogs, so the bill, if passed, would have little impact on where Mainers are getting their pets now.