May 26, 2024


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Ban on sale of animals in pet stores passes New York Senate

ALBANY – The state Senate on Tuesday voted to stop the selling of dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores, ending what some state lawmakers and animal advocates say was a “puppy-mill-to-pet-store pipeline.”

The bill, touted earlier this year before the coronavirus pandemic derailed the work of lawmakers, was approved Tuesday evening amid a flurry of legislation being acted on this week tackling outstanding bills and expanding protections and provisions dealing with COVID-19 and the upcoming general election.

It was unclear Tuesday when the Assembly may take up the bill. It was not on the chamber’s Tuesday agenda, and spokespersons for Speaker Carl E. Heastie did not respond to requests for comment.

State Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris, D-Queens, applauded the bill’s passage.

“With so many good animals in need of rescue, there is no need for pet stores to sell animals that predominantly come from abusive puppy and kitten mills,” he said. “Our four-legged companions should be treated with respect, not like commodities.”

Gianaris, who sponsored the bill, said the public typically is exposed to “the classic puppy in the window” – drawing young children and families in to buy an animal.

“What they don’t know is what goes on behind the scenes to get that puppy there,” he said on the Senate floor.

There are about 80 retail stores licensed to sell animals that the legislation would impact, but proponents of the bill say the bulk of revenue for those stores is from merchandise, not animal sales, and thus they will not be negatively impacted by the ban.

Some downstate pet store owners, however, argued the measure would decimate their businesses and the majority of their sales are animals.

The People United to Protect Pet Integrity, a group in opposition of the bill, has argued that people should have the ability to shop or adopt, and suggests adopting from a rescue can come with more uncertainty than what proponents have suggested results from purchasing pets at stores. The group also points to more people resorting to purchasing animals online, which is unregulated.

The bill, sponsored by Gianaris, does not prevent individuals from purchasing animals from breeders and would allow people to see what type of environment a puppy or young dog is living in.

New York has a few puppy mills in the Finger Lakes Region, but animal advocates say they do not sell to retailers in the state. Although New York might not have many puppy mills, pet stores can purchase animals from breeders across the country, which often come with unknown ailments discovered after a family purchases a pet.

Last year, lawmakers increased health and safety standards for animals being sold in pet stores and by other dealers, passing a law that sets guidelines for sanitary living enclosures and food receptacles. It also mandates annual veterinary exams and grooming, and ensures animals are not locked in darkness during the day and that pregnant dogs have separate spaces as well as room to nurse their litters.