Photo Courtesy of ASPCA
“By ensuring that pet stores can offer only rescues for adoption, this legislation will protect consumers, help to shut down the mills and end the puppy to-pet store pipeline,” Assemblywoman Rosenthal said.
By Forum Staff
State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) recently introduced legislation that would prohibit the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits in pet stores across the Empire State in an effort to abolish the so-called puppy mill-to-pet-store pipeline.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, New York has one of the highest concentrations of pet stores in the nation. Despite pet stores’ claims that their puppies come from well-regulated, humane breeders, dogs bred in these facilities often spend their entire lives in small, dirty, wire cages, the ASPCA indicated. Mother dogs are treated as nothing more than breeding machines, and puppies as nothing more than assembly-line products, the non-profit organization added.
“Time after time, the pet industry has demonstrated that it is not interested in ensuring the welfare of the dogs it churns out, nor is it interested in transparency or public accountability,” said Bill Ketzer, senior director of State legislation for the ASPCA, Northeast region. “These badly-regulated commercial dog breeders have only one goal: breed the highest volume of puppies possible at the lowest cost for the retailer. In turn, pet stores do everything in their power to sell these dogs, conveniently excluding well-documented health and behavior risks in their pitch to buyers who believe they are going home with a healthy, well-bred puppy. We are grateful that Senator Gianaris and Assemblymember Rosenthal are moving the needle forward with this bill to protect pets and consumers.”
According to the ASPCA, the federal government “has failed to adequately regulate puppy mills.” A breeder licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture must only abide by “insufficient, abysmal survival standards.” Enforcement is lacking, and penalties are weak. New York took action in 2014 to enact a new pet store law allowing local governments to crack down on cruel and unscrupulous pet dealers, but the law restricts them to limiting certain sources based on USDA inspection history.
The ASPCA has claimed that the USDA has since purged its breeder inspection database of any meaningful information on breeder inspection reports, hiding their documentation of puppy mill cruelty from regulators and consumers who wish to verify breeder inspection history. Despite several attempts by lawmakers and animal welfare groups, the USDA has continued to suppress this information for nearly two years, rendering all such local laws ineffective, according to the ASPCA.
“By ensuring that pet stores can offer only rescues for adoption, this legislation will protect consumers, help to shut down the mills and end the puppy to-pet store pipeline,” Rosenthal said. “Our animal shelters and rescue organizations are overflowing with animals needing forever homes; it’s time we start connecting rescue animals with loving homes through adoption in pet stores.”
ASPCA officials noted that while prohibiting the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits in pet stores, the bill would continue to allow pet stores to offer quality products and services and to offer space to shelters and rescues to showcase animals available for adoption from such organizations.