Rosenthal unleashes bill to shut ‘puppy mills’

BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH | A new bill could bring “puppy mills” in New York grinding to a halt.

Upper West Side Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal and Queens state Senator Michael Gianaris introduced a piece of legislation on March 11 that would ban the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores in New York State.

The proposed bill’s purpose is to shut down so-called puppy, cat and rabbit “mills,” which churn out most of the animals for sale in pet stores across the country.

“We must end the puppy-mill-to-pet-store pipeline,” Rosenthal declared.

“There is absolutely no reason that anyone should spend thousands of dollars on an often-unhealthy pet that was bred in abject horror, when shelters and rescues statewide are bursting at the seams with healthy and innocent animals in need of ‘fur-ever’ homes,” the assemblymember said.

A dog at a puppy mill in Missaukee County, Michigan, that was ultimately rescued. (Courtesy A.S.P.C.A.)

The animals in the pet factories are confined to tiny dirty cages, don’t have regular access to food or clean water, don’t receive routine veterinary care and are forced to constantly breed.

“These badly-regulated commercial dog breeders have only one goal: breed the highest volume of puppies possible at the lowest cost for the retailer,” said Bill Kezer, senior director of state legislation for the ASPCA, Northeast region.

Instead of pet shops getting animals from these mills, the bill calls for space to be set aside in the stores for shelters and animal-rescue centers to show animals that are available for adoption. This is something that some large chain pet stores, like Petco, already do.

According to a Petco representative, no actual dogs or cats have ever been sold in their stores. Petco eventually stopped selling rabbits in 2008.

The Humane Society has a database of “puppy-friendly’ pet stores that connect customers with rescued animals or make space for them in their stores.

Citipups is a Downtown-based store specializing in selling puppies, especially small breeds and miniature versions of large dogs. It has a Village shop, at 45 Christopher St., which has been there for 30 years, and a newer Chelsea storefront, on Eighth Ave. between 17th and 18th Sts.

According to David Barton, Citipups’ general manager, there will always be a demand for non-rescued animals.

“They are not going to stop anything,” he said. “People want little dogs and little purebreds.”

In Barton’s opinion, if the bill passes, it would simply fuel increased online sales of dogs and cats, which are harder to regulate. Instead, he said, breeders should be more heavily regulated and inspected.

In early January, California became the first state in the nation to bar pet stores from selling dogs, cats and rabbits unless they come from shelters.

In related news, Rosenthal has also introduced a bill to ban the manufacture and sale of fur pelts in New York State. In addition to fur coats, the ban would also apply to the coyote-fur trim on the hoods of Canada Goose parkas, a Rosenthal spokesperson confirmed.

Rosenthal has another pending bill that would ban cat declawing, which the spokesperson noted, is actually “the amputation of the third digit” of a cat’s toes. Yet another Rosenthal bill would see perpetrators of harmful acts against animals prosecuted not under the Department of Agriculture and Markets, as they are now, but under the Penal Code.

3 Responses to Rosenthal unleashes bill to shut ‘puppy mills’

  1. martha Petersen

    This is great. The fact that 2 million dogs are produced in puppy mills and that we euthanize 2.5 million dogs annually just proves that the puppy mill is not needed.

  2. Thank you Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal. It's appalling the way people will exploit anything they can get their hands on for the almighty buck. Older people are being subjected to scams daily and the greed knows no bounds.

  3. This is so overdue. So many dogs suffering so the heartless "millers" can make money. It's deeply disturbing and oh so wrong. Getting this bill passed would be huge!

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