Bar pet stores from buying from puppy mills, NY lawmaker says

ALBANY, N.Y. — Pet stores in New York state would be prohibited from buying dogs or cats from puppy mills and other large commercial breeding facilities under a legislative proposal announced Thursday.

The legislation sponsored by Democratic Sen. Michael Gianaris, of Queens, would require pet stores to get their animals from licensed rescue shelters or humane societies. It also would ensure that rescue organizations retain ownership of the animal if it is not adopted. Gianaris said the bill is intended to help find good homes for rescue animals while discouraging large commercial breeding operations linked to animal mistreatment and poor conditions.

“We have a huge population of rescues that need homes,” he said. “We are judged as a society by how we treat our animals. We have a long way to go because we are mistreating our companions on this earth.”

California passed similar rules last year that effectively banned the sale of animals from puppy mills. Gianaris said his bill attempts to build on that law by ensuring that unadopted dogs and cats remain the property of the rescue shelter, where they can return if not adopted out by the pet store.

Under the law, private or household breeders still would be allowed to sell dogs, cats or other animals directly to the public.

Gianaris predicts bipartisan support for the measure, which hasn’t been scheduled for a vote.

There’s no organized opposition to the legislation so far in New York state, where many pet stores already acquire animals from local rescue shelters.

In California, pet store owners opposed the bill, saying it would put a strain on their business and diminish consumer choices.