Maryland’s historic law banning pet stores from selling commercially bred dogs and cats, which takes effect next year, has the potential to save lives.

It will encourage people to adopt homeless animals from shelters rather than impulse-buying them as if they were merchandise, as well as prevent pet stores from lining the pockets of cruel mass-breeding mills.

Instead of trying to railroad this forward-thinking measure, pet stores should evolve with the times and generate goodwill in their communities, by offering space for local shelters to showcase animals who need homes.

And pet stores should rest assured that they can be highly profitable without selling animals, by focusing on supplies and accessories.

Live animal sales account for only a small fraction of pet shops’ profits. Last year, Americans spent more than $46 billion on food and supplies, and that number grows every year.

With countless animals in shelters dying for lack of good homes, pet stores shouldn’t have to be dragged out of the dark ages. They can, and should, embrace a humane — and profitable — business model.

Twitter: @CalRecMICHAEL