Feb. 3, 2020 By Kristen Torres
State Sen. Mike Gianaris has introduced a bill that would ban retail pet stores from selling dogs, cats and rabbits.
The bill, which passed the Domestic Animal Welfare Committee on Monday, aims to put an end to puppy mills, which Gianaris says are inhumane and cruel. Instead, he wants to encourage pet store owners to partner with animal shelters to find homes for rescue pets.
“With so many good animals in need of rescue, there is no need for puppy mills that abuse animals to supply pet stores,” Gianaris said in a statement. “Our four-legged companions should be treated with respect, not like commodities.”
Most animals sold at pet stores come from commercial breeding facilities, which have frequently come under fire for substandard conditions. Gianaris says that many of the animals are from out-of-state puppy mills, where the regulations are very loose. He says that many animals are mistreated and sick.
Gianaris said the animals supplied to stores from these mills often suffer from congenital issues resulting from poor breeding practices.
“Many times these animals have health problems that are not known to the person who purchases the animal,” Gianaris said. “They have to spend thousands and thousands of dollars in health care costs that they had no idea was going to be the case.”
The bill is being championed in the state Assembly by Linda B. Rosenthal, of Manhattan, who says the purpose of the bill is to cut the puppy mill pipeline.
But the bill does have its critics.
The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, which represents pet store owners, says the bill is misguided, arguing that responsible pet store owners will suffer and that many purchasers seeking a specific type of breed will go directly to the bad breeders anyway.
“In reality, the bad breeders this legislation targets will go untouched while responsible pet store owners pay the price and will be forced to close their doors and lay off hardworking New Yorkers,” the group said in a statement. “Families who are seeking a specific breed of dog will be driven to unlicensed sources, and could fall victim to unscrupulous sellers.”
The bill sponsors, however, said they hope New Yorkers seeking pets would instead adopt them from animal shelters. The legislation would still allow people to buy dogs or cats directly from breeders.
Animal rights groups have voiced their support for the bill, and said that the legislation is the right course of action to stop cruel practices among breeders.
“Shutting down the puppy mill pipeline will make it much harder for unscrupulous breeders to profit from their unconscionable brutality,” said ASPCA President Matt Bershadker.
New York has one of the highest concentration of pet stores in the country, according to the Humane Society of the United States. If passed, New York will join Maryland, California and more than 290 localities across the nation that have laws banning the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores.
The law would affect roughly 80 pet stores that are registered to sell domestic animals in the state.
There are 14 registered pet stores in Queens, including in neighborhoods such as Astoria, Corona, Sunnyside, Flushing, Forest Hills, College Point and Bayside.