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SAN GABRIAL VALLEY TRIBUNE (California) 01 January 03 State law requires care instructions - New pets must now be sold with owners manuals (Terry Webster)
Starting today , pets will come with instruction manuals.
It's part of a new California law that requires pet stores to issue written information on the proper care, handling and feeding of pets they sell, or face fines of up to $250 per incident.
According to the law, literature must be given out to everyone, even if they are a regular customer.
"A lot of stores are scrambling to comply with this,' said Marshall Meyers, executive vice president of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, a Washington, D.C.-based trade group. The group opposed the law, which was sponsored by state Sen. Edward Vincent, D- Los Angeles, and requested by the Doris Day Animal League.
Local pet shop owners say they agree with keeping customers well-informed on caring for pets.
But they also say the law could be taken to ridiculous extremes.
For example, is a goldfish intended for a fish bowl or a snack for another fish that sits higher on the food chain? If someone buys a mouse, is it a pet or a meal for a snake?
Glen Franks, owner of Town & Country Pet Shop in Covina, said he sells hundreds of mice and rats and thousands of crickets as reptile food in any given week.
"We try to educate the customer in every respect, but this is ridiculous,' said Franks, referring to the amount of paperwork and questioning the new law will require.
To help store owners protect themselves, the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council is suggesting owners have customers sign a log stating they either received or refused the mandatory literature.
Others say that a one-size-fits- all care manual won't always work for certain kinds of reptiles, fish or other creatures.
Shannon Jimenez, owner of Pet's Delight in Covina, said her store has as many as 300 species of fish.
"Some can co- habitate with other fish and some can't,' she said.
The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council is trying to help by posting care sheets for different kinds of pets on its Web site, Meyers said.
"I'm sure the intention of the law was good, but it could be used as a harassment tool, if someone wanted to harass a store,' Meyers said, referring to animal rights activists who oppose keeping pets in stores.
But not everyone thinks the law is a bad idea.
Ricky Whitman, spokeswoman for the Pasadena Humane Society, said the agency is looking forward to it.
"It should help provide better, safer homes for many of the pocket pets adopted out of pet shops,' she said. "These are the smaller animals that can have very specific needs for their care. If people don't know what that is, they're not going to be successful pet owners. Part of what we try do is to try to make pets and owners compatible.'
Another new law, also effective today , requires stores selling dogs and cats to hand out written materials on the benefits of spaying or neutering.
The materials also must include information on establishing a relationship with a veterinarian, early age spaying and neutering, the health benefits associated with spaying and neutering, and the need to comply with applicable license laws.
STAR-NEWS (Pasadena, California) 01 January 03 Shop owners race to meet law on pet-care guides (Michael Del Muro)
When Pek Choo opened his reptile store in La Habra 19 years ago, he made sure all his employees were properly trained and would be able to tell customers how to take care of the animals he sells, which range from garden snakes to large lizards.
Beginning today, however, a new state law will require Choo and other pet store owners to provide written care guides to new pet owners. If store owners fail to provide the written instructions, they could be subject to fines of $1,000 and/or 90 days in jail for a second violation.
The written information should provide tips for pet housing, necessary equipment, cleaning, environment and food, according to the new law.
Choo's La Habra Pets and other local stores barely became aware of the new law, which was signed by Gov. Gray Davis in September, on Monday and were rushing to meet the new requirement. The law was supported by the Doris Day Animal League and was carried by state Sen. Edward Vincent, D- Inglewood.
Choo said his employees always have observed the spirit of the new law by providing customers with verbal instructions on the care of their pets.
He worries that the law will have the reverse effect. Care for the animals he sells will deteriorate because buyers won't spend the time reading an owner's guide, Choo fears. But he will comply because, "it's a law, so there is nothing we can do.'
Kay Michelson, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control, said she hopes pet store owners and employees will continue to give directions verbally as well as in written form.
Larger chain stores like PetCo already hand out pet-care guides.
"We do receive animals that people don't know how to take care of, so we hope this helps,' said Michelson.
Officials said pet store owners can download copies of care guides via the Web site: www.petstorecaresheets.com . The site was created specifically for this law.