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!