Queens lawmaker’s bill to end the ‘puppy mill pipeline’ advances in Senate

State Senator Michael Gianaris announces his legislation to ban retail sales of puppies and other animals at pet stores passed in the upper chamber. (Photo courtesy of ASPCA)

Legislation to combat the “puppy mill pipeline” was advanced in the state Senate to improve the health and safety of domestic animals.

The bill, authored by state Senator Michael Gianaris, establishes a ban on the sale of puppy mill animals, pets that are often bred under inhumane conditions for the purpose of retail sale.

“With so many good animals in need of rescue, there is no need for puppy mills that abuse animals to supply pet stores,” Gianaris said. “Our four-legged companions should be treated with respect, not like commodities.”

Most of the animals available for sale in pet stores come from notorious dog, cat and bunny mills, which are known to be inhumane, according to Gianaris. Offspring of mill animals often have congenital issues resulting from poor breeding and can cost families thousands of dollars in veterinary care.

Pet breeders and stores are loosely regulated under the Animal Welfare Act by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Recent investigations revealed, however, that under the Trump administration, USDA inspectors became less aggressive in enforcing regulations. In addition, the USDA issued fewer serious violations that would ordinarily trigger swift follow-ups by the agency.

“When you see that adorable dog, a purring kitten or cuddly bunny in the pet store window, think twice before purchasing it,” state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky said. “Many of these animals were raised in deplorable and abusive conditions. I commend Senator Michael Gianaris for sponsoring this legislation, which I co-sponsored, that would prohibit their sale in pet stores. These puppy mills raise the pets under terrible conditions so that when the store sells the pet, it often has underlying health issues.”

The legislation clarifies the definition of the crime of aggravated cruelty to animals, enacts a property inspection requirement to check for abandoned animals and ensures that the best interest of pets is considered during divorce or separation proceedings. The legislation also aims to curb animal abuse and mistreatment of animals throughout the state.

“Having one of the country’s highest concentrations of pet stores that sell puppies, New York state needs to end the sale of cruelly bred puppy mill dogs in pet shops by finally passing the New York Puppy Mill Pipeline Bill,” ASPCA President and CEO Matt Bershadker said. “Shutting down the puppy mill pipeline will help stop unscrupulous breeders from engaging in, and profiting from, unconscionable brutality.”

Bershadker added that passage in the Assembly would signal New York’s determination to reject animal cruelty statewide.

“Once again, the state Senate has done the right thing. They’ve taken action by passing the Stop the Puppy Mill Pipeline bill,” NYS Animal Protection Federation Executive Director Libby Post said. “There’s no one else to speak up for companion animals except human beings who care about them. Puppy mills are horrible, female dogs are bred until they can no longer produce. Then they are killed. Puppies are ordered off a menu of options, shipped across the country without care and then sold to unsuspecting consumers who many times take home dogs that are sick and don’t survive. This is not humane. We will continue to speak out until the Assembly passes and the governor signs the bill.”

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