ASPCA Calls for Comprehensive Puppy Mill Reform as Long Island Bills Fall Short

August 5, 2014

NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is urging New York municipalities to consider more effective, targeted approaches when cracking down on unregulated pet dealers in the wake of recently-passed legislation in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. In January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo enacted a state law authorizing local governments to regulate pet dealers at the local level. Yesterday, Nassau County became the third municipality to do so, after Suffolk and Albany Counties passed pet dealer laws in June. The Nassau and Suffolk County statutes, while a step in the right direction, rely on notoriously weak USDA standards.

“The strong leadership of New York State lawmakers earlier this year paved the way for comprehensive puppy mill reform, repealing a longstanding state prohibition on local pet seller laws,” said Bill Ketzer, senior state director of ASPCA Government Relations for the Northeast region. “Local lawmakers are well-positioned to know what the needs are for their communities, so the New York law offers a unique opportunity to specifically tailor city and county laws. While we commend any locality working to protect animals in commercial breeding facilities, we encourage other communities to seize this opportunity to develop a more thorough plan that will address what the state and federal laws do not.”

Similar to the ordinance passed by Suffolk County, the Nassau County bill prohibits pet stores from selling puppies that come from breeders with certain violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), relying on these insufficient USDA standards as a model for addressing welfare concerns. Under those provisions, dogs can be kept in tiny, wire-floored cages, stacked on top of one another, for their entire lives. Also, female dogs can legally be bred at every heat cycle, with no relief. In contrast, Albany County’s law prohibits pet sellers from selling puppies unless those puppies come from breeders who far exceed the weak, poorly-enforced federal care standards.

“The Nassau and Suffolk County bills will keep some puppy mill puppies out of Long Island pet stores, but given the significant problems with enforcement of already weak USDA standards, these laws fall short of their ultimate goal,” said Cori Menkin, senior director of the ASPCA’s Puppy Mills campaign. “Albany County enacted a well-considered, enforceable measure earlier this year, proving that there are more effective options, and the ASPCA is ready to help New York localities craft the strongest laws possible to reduce the suffering of puppy mill dogs and better protect consumers.”

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