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Born Free USA's Expertise: A Resource for Legislators

Companion Animals in Pet Shops & Captive Birds

Federal law does not protect companion animals housed in retail pet facilities. In the absence of national regulation, 27 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws that establish some form of humane care standards for animals kept in pet shops. The quality and the scope of these laws vary from state to state. We have developed model legislation that will improve the treatment of companion animals at pet shops and restrict unethical sales practices that place animals and purchasers at risk.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia prohibit or regulate the sale of some unweaned animals. The sale of unweaned birds birds who are too young to feed themselves without assistance raises serious animal welfare and consumer protection concerns. When an inexperienced person attempts to hand-feed a young parrot, tragic complications can result, including aspiration pneumonia, burns or punctures of the digestive tract, or even death. The sale of unweaned birds also can generate substantial expenses for the consumer expenses that could have been avoided had the bird been sold after he or she was weaned.

This issue is coming to the forefront because captive exotic birds such as parrots were America's fastest-growing "pet" choice in the 1990s. We successfully introduced legislation in California to protect young parrots from the stress and dangers of commercial trade. The law regulates the sale of unweaned birds in pet shops and bird marts; California is the only state in the U.S. with such a law.

Additionally, we have recently taken an active role in a coalition pursuing legislation regarding the spaying/neutering of companion animals and associated breeding regulation.

Additional Issues

We also have expertise in a variety of other issues that may be of concern in your state. We would be happy to assist you with legislation in any of the following areas:

  • Regulating roadside zoos and menageries
  • Other animal-related issues

Please contact our Legal and Government Affairs Department by emailing legislation@bornfreeusa.org.