Bill encourages more pet adoptions from shelters, aims to close “puppy mills”

Legislative Gazette file photo
Animal Advocacy Day at the state Capitol is an annual event to promote legislation that would protect animals in New York state. A bill currently before the Legislature would prohibit pet retailers from buying their dogs and cats from “puppy mills” or “kitten mills.”

Pet dealers in New York would no longer be able to sell dogs or cats bred in “puppy mills” or “kitten mills” if a bill proposed by Sen. Michael Gianaris and Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell is passed.

The bill, (S.7711/A.09946), sponsored by Gianaris, D-Queens, and O’Donnell, D-Manhattan, would ban pet stores from selling dogs or cats unless those animals were obtained from a duly incorporated humane society, a public animal control agency or shelter or a rescue or adoption organization.

Co-sponsors joining Gianaris on the legislation Senate Democrats Neil Breslin, John Brooks, Liz Krueger, Jesse Hamilton and Toby Stavisky. The Assembly bill does not yet have any co-sponsors.

The legislation would ban retail pet stores from selling animals for profit, taking aim at the “abusive” environment fostered by puppy mills.

Under the proposal, retail pet stores would be permitted to work with rescue agencies to promote cat and dog adoptions, but would not be permitted to make a profit in the process.

Sponsors say the goal of the bill is to end the practice of high-volume commercial breeding and encourage families to adopt pets from shelters.

Pet dealers are being defined as a retail pet shop location primarily engaged in selling pets, pet foods, and pet supplies. This bill would not pertain to small breeders who sell directly to pet owners.

“With thousands of good animals in need of homes, there is no need for notorious puppy mills to supply pet stores,” Gianaris said.

This bill would not prohibit pet dealers from receiving sensible adoption fees which are normally charged by organizations when an animal is being transferred to a consumer.

If passed, any pet dealer that violates any provision of the bill may be subject to denial, suspension, revocation of, or refusal to renew its pet dealer license.

The bill is being modeled after similar ones enacted in 2017 in cities across California.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, each year, approximately 1.5 million animals are euthanized in shelters. This number has declined from since 2011, when 2.6 million animals were being euthanized a year. The decline is due to an increase in the percentage of families who are adopting instead of shopping for their pets.

The bill resides in the Senate’s Consumer Protection Committee and the Assembly’s Agriculture Committee and would take effect three months after being signed into law.