Gov. Larry Hogan has signed a ban on the sale of puppy mill dogs at Maryland pet stores, and a law requiring lab animals to be adopted.

ANNAPOLIS, MD — Animal rescue groups and shelters celebrated Tuesday as Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed a law that bans the sale of puppy mill dogs in pet stores. Dogs and owners celebrated at the Statehouse, while owners of the few remaining pet stores affected criticized the law.

“An overwhelming majority of Marylanders agree – holding puppies is the best part of any day,” Hogan’s Facebook page said, as he cuddled several pups.

Pet store owners told The Washington Post that they use responsible breeders, not “puppy mills.” As the law takes effect, Marylanders who want purebred puppies could find them online, where regulation is lax and there is no guarantee that the sellers are responsible animal caretakers.

The law prohibits retail pet stores from offering for sale, transferring, or disposing of cats or dogs; repeals certain provisions of law that authorize the sale of certain cats and dogs and sets forth the requirements for a retail pet store that offers to sell certain cats or dogs under certain circumstances; stating the intent of the General Assembly that animal welfare organizations initiate contact with retail pet stores to facilitate the showcasing of dogs and cats for adoption or for purchase from local breeders; etc.

“We couldn’t have been in this business for 20 years if the breeders weren’t caring for the dogs,” Jeanea Thomson told the Post. She and her husband own the Just Puppies pet stores in Rockville and Towson.

The ban wasn’t the only pet-related bill signed into law by Hogan on Tuesday. He also signed SB 675, the Humane Adoption of Companion Animals Used in Research Act of 2018, which forces research laboratories to release dogs and cats that are no longer needed for testing to rescue groups so the animals can be adopted. Beagles, which are often used for lab testing because of their docile nature, were among the dogs that joined Hogan at the bill signing, according to the Beagle Freedom Project, previously known as the Beagle Freedom Project.

Original Article: Annapolis Patch