This new law will let Californians know for sure they're not supporting puppy mills.

The puppies and kittens in your local pet store are pretty cute. But knowing where the adorable animals come from can be heartbreaking.

Many animals sold in pet stores come from "puppy mills," large-scale commercial breeding operations that put profit over animal welfare, resulting in unsanitary conditions, cramped cages, and inhumane practices.

A dog rescued from a puppy mill by the South Carolina National Guard. Photo by Maj. Cindi King, U.S. Army National Guard/Wikimedia Commons.


The ASPCA estimates that there are as many as 10,000 puppy mills in the United States, with similar operations also existing for cats and other animals.

In California, at least, some of those operations are about to go under. On Oct. 13, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill designed to put an end to puppy mills in the state.

Starting in 2019, California pet stores will be banned from selling animals that come from puppy mills.

California pet stores will be required to obtain all their dogs, cats, or rabbits from shelters or rescue organizations instead of breeders. Violators will face a $500 fine.

Photo by PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay.

“This legislation is a big step forward for animals in California,” said Jennifer Scarlett, president of the SF SPCA, just one of many animal welfare organizations — including The Humane Society and the national ASPCA — that support the bill.

“We are grateful to Governor Brown for putting his stamp of approval on a state policy to dry up funding for this inhumane industry," said The Human Society president Wayne Pacelle.

Some are afraid the bill might go too far though.

Opponents of the bill, such as the Pet Industry Advisory Council, claim the bill removes consumer protections and it's unfair to demonize all breeders.

It might also inadvertently make it hard for pet stores themselves to find animals, PIAC warns, since shelters are not required to work with commercial pet stores. Boris Jang, a pet store owner in Santa Ana, California, told The New York Times he thought the bill was coming from a good place, but worried it still might put him out of business.

The bill also prevents more responsible, humane private breeders from selling to pet stores, although the breeders can still sell to prospective owners directly.

Breaking the supply chain that funds these operations means California might be the first state to eliminate puppy mills within its borders — and ultimately, that's a good thing.

More than 230 cities and counties in the United States have enacted similar laws to ban the sale of puppy mill animals, but this is the first statewide law in the United States.

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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