Measure Would Ban Sale Of Dogs, Cats From Pet Stores

ALBANY — A push to ban the sale of commercially bred dogs, cats and rabbits at pet shops in New York is gaining steam at the state Capitol, advocates for the humane treatment of animals said last week.

The measure, sponsored by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, D-Manhattan, and Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris, D-Queens, would make New York the sixth state in the nation to target what animal activists call the “puppy mill pipeline” supplying the shops with puppies and kittens.

Since the measure last year won approval from the state Senate, the biggest remaining hurdle is the Assembly. But Libby Post, executive director of the New York State Animal Protection Federation, said she is optimistic the legislation will be supported by both houses this year.

“We all know by now what goes on in puppy mills and how horrific the conditions are,” Post said. “We’ve seen the videos, we’ve seen the pictures.”

Post said many New York pet shops have already gotten out of the business of offering puppies and kittens for sale, relying on the sale of pet food and supplies, with some working directly with shelters to facilitate sales to consumers.

California enacted a similar ban in 2017. Since then, Maryland, Maine, Washington and Illinois have banned the sale of dogs and cats at pet shops. New York would become the sixth state to do so, if the legislation advances here. Across the nation, some 400 municipalities have imposed local bans on pet shop sale of dogs and cats.

A spokeswoman for the American Kennel Club, representing 217 dog clubs in New York and thousand of dog owners, said the organization is renewing the objections to the measure. The AKC, representing the world’s largest purebred dog registry, said the New York bill would limit consumer choice and “have a negative impact on dogs and dog owners in the state.”

By pressuring pet stores to form alliances with shelter organizations, the state would effectively be removing a regulated source of pets from those businesses while creating a “perverse demand” for dogs that do not benefit from animal welfare regulations, the AKC said in objecting to the New York legislation.

When the state Senate approved the proposal a year ago with a 57-6 vote, the supporters included Senate GOP Leader Rob Ortt, R-Niagara County, and Sen. Peter Oberacker, R-Otsego County. Among those weighing in with a “no” vote was Sen. Dan Stec, R-Queensbury.

Brian Shapiro, New York state director for the Humane Society of the United States, said state efforts to put a dent in “puppy mills” have proven to be crucial, contending the federal government has not been effective in regulating those outlets,

Visits by the Humane Society staffers to those outlets have turned up evidence of sick dogs, “consumer ripoffs,” and “deceptive” statements about the source of the pets, Shapiro said.

An investigation initiated by the Humane Society resulted in a state judge imposing $3.9 million in fines on the Chelsea Kennel Club in Manhattan for selling sick animals, he noted.

But Emilio Ortiz, manager of Citipups, with several pet stores in New York City, said the bill being reviewed in Albany is misdirected and paints a misleading viewpoint of pet stores.

“It punishes the good actors who are actually not doing anything wrong,” Ortiz said.

“They take the worst examples of pet stores and say all the stores are just like this, instead of weighing out the good and the bad,” Ortiz said.

Another trade organization, the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, is also seeking to convince lawmakers to reject the legislation.

It contends the worst breeders will escape sanctions while “responsible” pet stores will be forced to close and lay off their workers.


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