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New York Moves to Ban Sales of Dogs, Cats, Rabbits Sold at Pet Stores


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California, Maryland and Maine have banned the sales of dogs, cats, rabbits at pet stores and New York State appears set to follow. On July 21, the New York State Senate voted 48 to 12 to stop the selling dogs, cats and rabbits at retail brick and mortar pet stores. In New York they are appropriately calling it “ending the puppy mill to pet store pipeline.” This bill (S. 4234-A) was introduced and championed by New York State Senator Michael Gianaris.

New Jersey (in part, led by Dr. Adam Christman, who appears on Steve Dale’s Pet World, WGN Radio Sunday July 26 on WGN radio 5:30am CDT) , Minnesota  and in several other states are on their way to passing bans but have been slowed with legislators being distracted as a result of the pandemic.

In New York, the general Assembly still needs to vote before the bill can be headed to the Governor’s desk to become law. Thus far, no timetable on that vote – but if you live in New York State, do contact your Assembly person.

Aside from New York State being merely influential because of its size, when this law is ultimately enacted it’s especially significant because one historical opponent of these pet store sales bills in cities around America, the American Kennel Club (AKC) is located in New York City. The AKC has spent A LOT of money on lawyers fighting these laws mostly without success. And while championing mass producers of dogs (mostly not even pure bred dogs), they’re oddly leaving their own valid hobby breeders in the dust.

Also, New York State has one of the country’s highest number of puppy-selling pet stores that sell dogs and cats, which often source puppies from commercial breeding facilities (a.k.a. puppy mills) where dogs are bred at every opportunity in order to produce as many puppies as possible. These puppies are then distributed to pet stores in New York State and sold as healthy, high-quality puppies from responsible breeders – which is clearly untrue.

Arguably every time a puppy is sold consumers are deceived; the stores are guilty of consumer fraud.

The People United to Protect Pet Integrity, a group opposed to the New York bill, suggests that banning pet store sales will only push people online. Indeed people do purchase online; they don’t need to be pushed there. Only education of perspective pet owners (about where to go and where not to go online) and Federal regulation (not happening under Trump Administration) can limit this. Meanwhile, cities (over 350 and counting), counties and states are doing what they can. There’s substantial data which demonstrates that dogs sold at pet stores are more likely to have behavior and/or medical issues.

New York State Senator Michael Gianaris speaking on the Senate floor in New York:

While many veterinary associations remain actually opposed to the limits on pets store sales, increasingly individual veterinary professionals are outraged by their profession’s stance. Veterinary Professionals Against Puppy Mills formed as a non-profit to mobilize veterinary professionals who stand in support on bans of sales of dogs, cats, rabbits sold at pet stores.

It is true that no responsible breeder ever, ever , EVER sells to a pet store, it’s clear the stores get their animals from irresponsible and reckless sources…..They’re so concerned about revealing the truth these days brokers are involved to break up the already difficult to follow trail of where dogs are sourced, which typically lead to puppy mills. This is today pretty much a known FACT.

Even if you say you abhor puppy mills – it doesn’t matter. If you are opposed to the bans of sales of puppies as commodities, you are then supporting puppy mills.

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Steve Dale is a certified animal behavior specialist who has been a trusted voice in the world of pet health for over 20 years. You have likely heard him on the radio, read him in print and online, and seen him speaking at events all over the world. His contributions to advancing pet wellness have earned him many an award and recognition around the globe.

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