Photo: NYC Council Members Corey Johnson and Elizabeth Crowley, who spearheaded this legislation, flank ASPCA President and CEO Matthew Bershadker as he speaks at this morning's rally in support of stronger pet store regulations.
We couldn’t be more thrilled to share the news that the New York City Council today voted in favor of Introductions 55-A, 136-A and 146-A, legislation to regulate city pet stores that sell puppies. Certain provisions of the bills will take effect as soon as January.
These measures are designed to prevent pet stores in New York City from obtaining puppies from some of the most unscrupulous puppy breeders—a.k.a. puppy mills—in the nation. Pet stores will also be required to disclose information to customers about the origins of the animals they sell, as well as to spay/neuter and microchip dogs and cats (and license dogs) before selling them. This multi-pronged approach will protect animals from exploitation and suffering and help arm consumers with the information they need to make smart choices about bringing new pets into their homes.
Our deepest thanks go out to the New York City members of our ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, who emailed and called their councilmembers in support of these measures. To learn more about the puppy mill industry and its connection to pet stores that sell animals, please visit nopetstorepuppies.com.
In January 2014, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed milestone legislation to allow local governments to regulate pet dealers for the first time in almost 15 years. We are thrilled to announce that the New York City Council has risen to the occasion and is currently considering three pieces of ASPCA-supported legislation that would lay down new rules for city stores that sell puppies and kittens.
While there are very few puppy mills within the five boroughs, there are over 70 stores that sell puppies and kittens, and they obtain their “stock” from breeders all over the country. While the Council can’t regulate breeders outside of the city, it can make sure that New York City pet stores don’t support the cruel treatment of these pups or their parents, who never get out of the puppy mills.
The three proposals currently under consideration:
Intro. 55-A would help ensure that NYC pet shops do not sell dogs and cats from breeders who fail to meet even the most basic care standards—those with certain violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act on their records—and would prohibit stores from doing business with Class B dealers, animal brokers notorious for obtaining animals from disreputable, difficult-to-trace sources. Intro 55-A would also require NYC pet shops to disclose critical information to customers about the origins of the dogs and cats they sell.
Intros. 136-A and 146-A would require that any dogs and cats sold at city pet shops are spayed/neutered and microchipped and all dogs are licensed prior to sale. Spaying and neutering animals sold in pet shops is critical to reducing pet homelessness; microchipping is essential to reuniting lost pets with owners; and licensing not only helps ensure the safety of pets and the public, but also generates much-needed revenue for the New York City’s shelter system.
If passed, these measures would take effect on June 1, 2015.
For a one-year-old Shih Tzu named Cosita, life wasn’t always easy. Purchased from a pet store and then neglected for nearly a year, Cosita was suffering from a number of physical and emotional ailments by the time she was rescued by the ASPCA. But despite it all, this petite pup had a lot of love to give—and fortunately, she found the perfect person to give it to. Here is Cosita’s Happy Tail.
Cosita was born in July 2013. As a young puppy, she was sold to a pet store where she was purchased by her first owner; it is likely that she came from a puppy mill. In her first year of life, Cosita was neglected so severely that her fur became matted and she developed a serious skin disease. She was scared, frightened and lonely until the ASPCA rescued her in July 2014.
At the ASPCA Animal Hospital, Cosita needed several surgeries to repair her wounded skin tissue, including the partial amputation of her tail. In addition, an untreated eye condition called KCS left her with deficient tear production and chronic dry eyes. To alleviate her discomfort, she was put on a daily regimen of prescription eye drops.
Because of all she had been through, Cosita displayed some fear around new people. She didn’t like to be touched on certain parts of her body, and she growled at strangers. But the 7-pound pooch’s problems weren’t enough to hide her sweet heart, and adopter Adam G. was determined to earn her trust.
Adam met Cosita at the end of August, nearly two months after her arrival at the ASPCA. A lifelong animal lover, he had come to the Adoption Center seeking “a partner in crime to take care of and spend time with every day.” Rather than being intimidated by Cosita’s issues, he saw them as something that could bring them together. “I knew she was for me because we both have allergies, a noticeable scar, and she looked like a curious friendly clown when I saw her for the first time, tilting her head side to side,” he recalls. He adopted her the same day he met her and vowed to give her the happy life she so clearly deserved.
Once home, Adam changed Cosita’s name to Cookie, and in the last eight weeks they have become inseparable. Cookie quickly learned to trust Adam and, thanks to his kindness and patience, seems to have forgotten her sad past entirely. Adam tells us, “Cookie loves to snuggle, be rubbed on her tummy, chew on her bone, hide her toys, and follow me everywhere.”
After all Cookie has been through, we are so thrilled that the sweet dog has found a loving “forever home.” It takes a special kind of adopter to help an animal work through her fears, and Adam has done an incredible job. And not only is she a happy and playful partner for Adam, she is also, as he says, “So freaking cute!!”
Last week, lawmakers in Nassau County, New York—the western portion of Long Island—passed an ordinance to regulate the county’s pet stores and breeders beyond what state law requires. While we’re always glad to see local governments taking the time to address the issue of puppy mill cruelty, the new Nassau ordinance is similar to the one passed recently in neighboring Suffolk County in that it doesn’t do nearly enough to protect animals and consumers. Because the county is defaulting to the USDA’s notoriously lax (and poorly enforced) care standards instead of creating tougher ones, the 11 local pet stores that sell pups will almost certainly still be able to source them from puppy mills.
We’re also disappointed that Nassau County legislators were unwilling to work with animal welfare groups and other experts on this subject. They ignored recommendations from local advocates and sped the bill to passage without giving the public time to weigh in and push for a tougher law.
By contrast, Albany County’s strong Local Law C prohibits pet sellers from selling puppies unless those puppies come from breeders who far exceed USDA standards. That bill passed the county legislature with overwhelming public support and high praise from local, statewide and national animal welfare organizations and is awaiting the signature of Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy.
We hope that other local governments utilizing New York’s recently passed state law allowing them to regulate pet dealers will look more toward the Albany model rather than to the bills passed on Long Island—and we hope that they will give their citizens ample opportunity to comment. New York animal advocates, please let your local officials know that the ASPCA is standing by to help towns and counties craft the strongest laws possible to stop puppy mill abuse and better-protect consumers!
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Advocates, today is No Pet Store Puppies Day. Last week, we gave you a glimpse into the process of behavioral rehabilitation for one particular dog, Dusty, who was terrified of everyone and everything after a life spent in a puppy mill. Read the rest of Dusty’s story, as told by our staff behavior experts, to see the amazing progress puppy mill survivors like him can make.
April 15, 2014: We are continuing to work with Dusty on his fear of seeing people while he’s on a leash. The rehabilitation center is lucky to have volunteers who come in on regular basis and act as unfamiliar people for our dogs in treatment. Today, I took Dusty on a walk to meet one of our volunteers and asked her to toss treats to him during the encounter. If we do this enough times, most dogs start to associate strangers they see on walks with yummy treats! Dusty is making extraordinary progress and we expect him to graduate from our program soon. He is sure to make a lucky family very happy!
May 1, 2014: Dusty graduated from our program today! He’s been placed with a rescue group, Rescuzilla, and will be living in a foster home in Queens, New York!
May 9, 2014: Rescuzilla tells us Dusty blew them all away with how quickly he warmed up to his new home. In the first couple of days, he was already comfortable being walked and held—even by his foster parent’s niece and nephew!
June 1, 2014:Dusty has found his forever home! A veterinary technician in New Jersey saw him on Petfinder and fell in love instantly. She has two other rescued Chihuahuas. One of Dusty’s rescue sisters is even sassier than he is, and the adopter was so happy to see the three of them get along so seamlessly in just the first few hours after Dusty came home! His new family says that he loves his new dad—but is a mama’s boy at heart. He is just what they were looking for.
Dusty’s journey is happily over, but there are many more dogs like him—is there room in your heart and home for one? Raja, Apple and Gustavo—three dogs seized from the same puppy mill as Dusty—have likewise graduated from the ASPCA's Behavioral Rehabilitation Center and are now waiting for their forever families.