On June 9, the Albany County Legislature voted unanimously to enact tough new restrictions on pet stores and breeders in the county that sell puppies directly to consumers. Embracing model language crafted by the ASPCA, “Local Law C” establishes municipal regulation of pet sellers and puts in place standards that exceed existing state requirements. More importantly, the law makes Albany the first county in New York to effectively and comprehensively keep puppy mill puppies out of its local pet stores!
Beginning in 2015, Albany County consumers can be more confident that their community is not supporting the systemic cruelties that are all too common in the puppy mill industry. Local Law C prohibits pet sellers in Albany County from selling puppies unless those puppies come from breeders who far exceed notoriously weak USDA care standards, which allow breeding dogs to live their entire lives stacked on top of each other in tiny, wire-floored cages.
This approach ensures that the parents of puppies offered for sale in Albany County have not suffered lifetimes of close confinement and discomfort. They must have constant access to the outdoors, must be seen by a veterinarian at least twice a year, and will not swelter in the summer or freeze in the winter. Breeders failing to provide their dogs with these most basic forms of animal care must take their business elsewhere!
We are sincerely grateful to bill sponsors Bryan Clenahan and Gary Domalewicz, who worked diligently with ASPCA staff to establish the sound, attainable and enforceable mechanisms found in Local Law C. We thank the Albany County Legislature for their leadership and desire to better protect animals, public health, and consumers who invest so much, financially and emotionally, in their pets. We look forward to working with other communities in New York that would like to do the same.
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This June, it’s raining cats and kittens at the ASPCA. That’s right—it’s the height of kitten season and it’s also “Adopt a Shelter Cat” month, so we’ve got nothing but meows on our mind. Though we’re working double-time to find a home for every cat, sometimes we get lucky and fate does the job for us. That’s what happened when Sabrina C. met Leo, a newborn kitty who was adopted just hours after becoming available. Here is their Happy Tail.
Leo first came to the ASPCA at just nine days old. He, his six siblings, and their mother were found living in the home of a hoarder, and they were brought to our Animal Hospital for immediate medical attention. Because of their age, the newborns were placed under intensive neonatal care, which includes round-the-clock monitoring of health, temperature, weight, and food. Their mama was close by to tend to her babies, as well.
While all of this was happening, Sabrina C. was across town with her fiancé considering cat adoption. She had lost her older cat, Jack, to stomach cancer in early 2013, and finally felt ready to open her home to a kitten again. “When I finally decided it was time, I knew I wanted to adopt and not shop,” she says. So they headed to the ASPCA.
Had Sabrina visited our Adoption Center on any other day—or even any other hour—she might have left empty handed. But as luck would have it, Leo completed his neonatal care and was transferred to adoptions just two hours before she arrived. “When I first looked into his little kennel, he was laying there almost not wanting to be bothered. I loved that kind of ‘too good for this’ personality!” Sabrina laughs. “We picked him up and immediately knew he was ours.” As if to further cement the deal, Sabrina noticed that Leo’s birth date fell on her anniversary. “It felt it was a sign!” she says. After less than three hours in our Adoption Center, Leo had found his forever home.
Back at the apartment, the teeny kitty adjusted right away. “He is so energetic and silly,” says Sabrina. “He is very playful and loves to do weird things that just make you laugh.” They settled into their new life easily, and Leo’s early days in the home of a hoarder are nothing but a distant memory. “He’s like no pet I’ve ever had before,” says Sabrina. “He was the cat we were waiting for.”
June is “Adopt a Shelter Cat” Month, and there are tons cats and kittens waiting to meet their matches in shelters across the country! Visit the ASPCA Adoption Center—or any local shelter—to meet homeless animals in need of loving families.
As the Challenge began on Sunday, June 1, all 50 shelters worked to host special adoption events throughout the week. From California to Maine, adopters visited local shelters to show their support for the Challenge and went home with furry best friends of all shapes and sizes.
But the excitement is just beginning! Now through the end of August, support your local Challenge shelter as the contestants compete to break their own adoption records and save the most animals over the same period in 2013.
Update: Great news!! King has been adopted! Stay tuned to aspca.org/blog to learn more about King's new forever home.
Last month, animal advocates were outraged when a video of a Brooklyn man brutally kicking a cat emerged online. Authorities were immediately notified, and on May 6, one day after the video was posted, the NYPD brought the cat to the ASPCA Animal Hospital for emergency veterinary care. His name is King.
After receiving medical treatment and a full behavioral evaluation, we are thrilled to announce that King is now recovered and looking for a forever home! During his stay with the ASPCA, King has proven to be an affectionate and playful cat. ASPCA shelter staff recommends that King’s adopter have plenty of previous cat experience, and he would do best in a single-cat household with respectful kids over age 12.
If you are a qualified adopter and would like to learn more about making this lovely cat the King of your castle, please call (212) 876-7700, ext. 4044.
While we realize that there may be many loving homes willing to welcome him, there is only one King. However, June is Adopt a Shelter Cat Month, and we want to remind all interested adopters that there are plenty of loving cats and kittens waiting to meet their matches in shelters across the country! The best way people can help cats like King is to visit the ASPCA Adoption Center—or any local shelter—and meet homeless animals equally deserving of loving families.
The NYPD arrested the man suspected of kicking King on May 5. King’s case reinforces the importance of reporting animal cruelty in a timely manner, and we are so proud of animal advocates for stepping up to help this sweet cat.
Earlier this week, legislators in Suffolk County, New York—which occupies the eastern half of Long Island—passed a local ordinance regulating the sale of puppies in pet stores, becoming the first locality in the state to take advantage of a recent change to state law that allows municipalities to regulate pet dealers. While New York State finally allows local governments to enact and enforce tougher laws on pet stores, they cannot enact outright bans on the sale of puppies. Despite this, there are still some very effective alternatives to keep puppy mill puppies out New York’s pet shops.
We commend the county for its desire to do what our state’s government is not doing—it is the right instinct, and we hope this well-intentioned legislation will have some positive results for dogs and consumers.
However, we urge other communities interested in fighting puppy mill cruelty to pursue more targeted and effective models for such legislation. The Suffolk County approach prohibits pet stores from selling puppies who come from breeders with certain violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), relying on these standards as indicators of humane care. The problem with this approach is that federal standards are too minimal to screen out many significant, well-established welfare problems. For Suffolk County, this means that puppy mill puppies will still likely be sold in pet stores. Given what we’ve learned from years of helping law enforcement handle puppy mill raids, we believe that basing regulation of pet store sales on the inadequate and poorly enforced USDA standards is a limited approach, especially given the shortcomings of current federal law.
Under USDA standards, dogs in commercial breeding facilities can legally be kept in tiny wire-floored cages, stacked on top of one another, for their entire lives. We have witnessed and treated the sores and painful injuries dogs endure when they live 24/7—with no relief—on these wire floors. We have walked into puppy mills that were considered compliant with USDA standards and found female dogs whose bodies are broken down from continuous, unrelieved breeding—breeders do not, legally, ever have to skip a cycle and give a mother dog’s body a chance for recovery. These dogs stare back at us through lackluster eyes reflecting their broken spirits and worn out bodies, legs bowed from depleted bones and coats dull from the endless nursing and exhaustion.
Take a look at our gallery of breeder photos taken by federal inspectors during routine inspections of licensed facilities and see for yourself where most pet store puppies really come from and what it means for a breeder to be USDA-licensed and compliant with the regulations this new ordinance deems acceptable. To illustrate what’s legal, the photo below depicts housing conditions that are totally legal under federal law. The dogs in the picture can be kept in the cages shown for their entire lives, churning out litter after litter of puppies.
Sutmiller, Dorothy & Johnny & Shawn, USDA License #73A2583. Inspection on June 12, 2013.
Even if the standards were adequate, they're poorly enforced. Take a look at a scathing report from the Inspector General on the USDA's lax enforcement of the law regulating breeders (heads up, it's a little graphic!) and judge for yourself whether basing pet store regulation on the USDA system is enough to keep all puppies from puppy mills out of pet stores. We don't think it is. Violations like the ones in the pictures below demonstrate just how systemic the problems are and how both enforcement and the standards themselves are lacking.
Puppies’ feet falling through wire flooring. Miller, Eli, USDA License #43A5541. Inspection on August 18, 2011.
Sores between a dog’s toes from living on wire flooring. Lapp, Elmer, USDA License #32A0363. Inspection on December 14, 2011.
An over-bred female Beagle. Miller, Roy, USDA License #31A0276. Inspection on September 26, 2012.
We realize that a small step forward could be worth taking in some situations, but we believe local governments in the Empire State can do better. New York State’s recent move to allow local governments to enact these ordinances demonstrates an appetite to reduce the cruelty of the pet trade. There’s a better way to achieve this goal than the Suffolk County approach. We know that there are many towns, cities, villages and counties in New York that are considering regulating pet store sales, and we stand at the ready to help them do it in the most effective way possible.
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