California animals, rejoice: New laws should put an end to pet-store "puppy mills" and the degradation of pets in divorce cases. Starting New Year's Day, operators of pet stores will only be allowed to sell rabbits, cats, and dogs that come from non-profit rescue organizations and shelters, CNN reports. People will still be allowed to buy pets from private breeders, but stores won't be able to. "I think it's better to rescue these animals instead of having like a puppy mill or something like that where these animals are raised super inhumanely," a San Diego pet shopper tells NBC Los Angeles. "It takes the emphasis off the profit of animals." Critics say the law will force some pet stores out of business and make it harder for people to buy specific breeds, per the Huffington Post.
Another new Cali law will let judges consider pets' well-being when placing them with one spouse or the other in divorce cases, NBC News reports. Previously, pets were considered physical property that could even be sold off. "But pets aren't quite the same thing as china and sofas," says a professor of animal law. "They're more like children, in that they're living beings who have their own preferences." The law could create headaches, like custody disputes that drag on with the testimony of pet therapists or "animal feelings" experts—but Chicago matrimonial lawyer David Schaffer says he hasn't seen such problems since Illinois adopted a similar law in 2018. "I don't see that here," he says, though "California is an entirely different planet." (One girl asked about her missing pet: "Why did you mail my cat?")