Animal welfare advocates in New York are heralding the recent approval of a statewide law that prohibits the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits at retail pet stores to “end the puppy mill-to-pet store pipeline and stop abusive breeders” and help more stray and abandoned pets find homes.
The law, which goes into effect in 2024, will not outright bar pet shops from having four-legged friends on display as retailers may charge rescue organizations rent to present ready-to-adopt companion animals. But it has been hailed as a major achievement for animal welfare by its backers.
“Dogs, cats and rabbits across New York deserve loving homes and humane treatment,” said New York state governor Kathy Hochul, who green-lighted the legislation on 15 December. The law, Hochul said, “will make meaningful steps to cut down on harsh treatment and protect the welfare of animals across the state”.
Opponents, who are largely pet shop owners, contend that it will decimate their business and push pet sales into the shadows, potentially ramping up the risk for purchases from breeders of ill repute. Emilio Ortiz, general manager of Citipups pet store in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, criticized the law as harmful to legitimate retailers – and ineffective toward fighting bad actors. The law, he said, doesn’t shut down puppy mills or hold inhumane breeders accountable.
“It doesn’t prohibit them from continuing to sell dogs, either on the internet or face-to-face, and it does not increase the standards of care that these breeders have to abide by,” Ortiz said. “All it does is prohibit the sale of puppies at pet shops. Now, is that going to stop bad pet shops that were working with bad breeders? 100%. But, it’s also going to make it illegal for responsible pet stores that get their dogs from breeders who raised them humanely. It’s going to make it illegal for them to do that – and those are the people that they’re going to put out of business.”
Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, touted the law as a long-sought victory for animals and their pet-parents.
“By ending the sale of cruelly bred puppy mill dogs in state pet shops, New York is shutting down the pipeline that enables retail sellers and commercial breeders to profit from unconscionable brutality,” Bershadker said in a statement.