NEW YORK – Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan) and State Senator Michael Gianaris were joined by renowned award-winning actress and lifelong New Yorker Edie Falco at a press conference on April 26 in support of A.6298/S.4234, legislation to prohibit the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits from pet mills in pet stores across New York State.
Falco, who is the proud parent of a rescue dog named Sami, has been recognized by the ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) for her work to protect animals and end the abuses at puppy mills.
The legislation will allow pet stores to make space available to shelters and rescues to feature animals that are available for adoption.
“We must end the pet mill-to pet store pipeline. Ending the sale of pet store animals will help to end the pet mill industry that supplies the stores,” said Assemblymember Rosenthal. “Shelters and rescues statewide are bursting at the seams with healthy animals in need of ‘fur-ever’ homes, there is no reason for New Yorkers to spend thousands on ailment-ridden pets.”
“With so many good animals in need of homes, there is no need for puppy mills to supply pet stores,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris. “Our four-legged companions should be treated with respect, not like commodities.”
Many of the animals available for sale in pet stores across the country and in New York come from dog, cat and bunny mills. The animals kept in the mills are subject to horrific conditions: Many are locked in filthy cages that are too small to accommodate them; they do not have regular access to food or clean water and are denied routine medical care; they are bred repeatedly, forced to churn out litter after litter for profit.
The offspring from mill animals are often saddled with a host of congenital issues. These animals are the cute kittens, puppies, and bunnies one finds in the pet store. Unsuspecting customers take them home and fall in love with them only to find that they are sick and in need of expensive veterinary care.
Commercial pet breeders and stores are regulated under the Animal Welfare Act by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). For years, advocates have pushed the USDA for a more robust inspection and enforcement regime. Instead, a recent investigation by the Humane Society of the United States revealed that under the Trump administration, USDA inspectors documented an astounding 60% fewer violations at facilities that house animals in 2018 in comparison to 2017. In addition, the USDA is issuing fewer serious violations that would ordinarily trigger swift follow-up action by the agency.
“Time after time, the pet industry has demonstrated that it is not interested in ensuring the welfare of the dogs it churns out, nor is it interested in transparency or public accountability,” said Bill Ketzer, senior director of state legislation for the ASPCA, Northeast region. “These badly-regulated commercial dog breeders have only one goal: breed the highest volume of puppies possible at the lowest cost for the retailer. In turn, pet stores do everything in their power to sell these dogs, conveniently excluding well-documented health and behavior risks in their pitch to buyers who believe they are going home with a healthy, well-bred puppy. We are grateful that Senator Gianaris and Assemblymember Rosenthal are moving the needle forward with this bill to protect pets and consumers, and we thank Edie Falco for speaking up for animals to support this lifesaving legislation.”
“We applaud Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal and Senator Michael Gianaris for taking a strong stand against puppy mill cruelty with the introduction of this legislation,” said Brian Shapiro, New York senior state director for the Humane Society of the United States. “New York will become a more humane state when mass produced puppies, kittens and bunnies can no longer be sold in pet stores.”
“The public is disgusted by the reality of puppy mills and the predatory practices of the retailers it supports,” said Libby Post, executive director of the New York State Animal Protection Federation. “The Federation is pleased to support this measure, and work with our animal welfare partners statewide to fight animal homelessness and help end the cycle of misery of mill-owned breeding dogs.”
According to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the state agency tasked with regulating pet dealers like pet stores, there are 80 pet stores registered to do business throughout the state, and New York State ranks at the top of the list of states with the most pet stores in the country.
New York State Senator and Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris with a furry friend. Photo: Courtesy of Sen. Gianaris