Matt's Blog: Efforts Underway in NY to Shut Down the Puppy Mill Pipeline

June 8, 2021

Dog in cage

By Matt Bershadker, ASPCA CEO

Puppies are often synonymous with love and joy, which makes it very difficult to comprehend the abject cruelty of puppy mills, commercial dog-breeding facilities that make money by mass-producing puppies at exhausting speeds. These facilities breed dogs relentlessly in cruel and filthy conditions, then ship their puppies to pet stores through what is often referred to as the puppy mill pipeline.

While the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)—the federal agency that oversees these facilities—has been aware of these conditions for well over a decade, the agency has not consistently acted in the public interest to end these horrific practices. As public awareness has grown about the cruel puppy mill industry and the lack of protections for the adult dogs who spend their entire lives in commercial breeding facilities, states and hundreds of communities across the country have shut down this pipeline by ending the sale of dogs in pet stores.

Now, a similar measure before the New York State Legislature—referred to as the Puppy Mill Pipeline Bill—would cut off the supply of dogs from puppy mills into one of their biggest markets in the country—New York pet stores. The state Senate has already passed the bill with overwhelming bipartisan support. With just a few weeks before the legislative session ends for the year, the Assembly must act accordingly to end the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits in pet stores across the state.

In these puppy mills, breeding dogs can live their entire lives in cramped cages producing one litter after another. The dogs exist solely to produce puppies for profit.

Meanwhile, puppies from these facilities often suffer from illnesses or genetic issues. A survey commissioned by the ASPCA revealed that 1 in 4 people bought a pet store puppy who became severely ill or know someone who purchased a sick puppy from a pet store. Nearly half of those people (45 percent) also reported that the sick puppy died.

Pet stores rely on deception and emotions to sell their puppies, marketing them as healthy dogs from responsible breeders. Not surprisingly, these same pet stores are now relying on deception to portray consequences of the bill that are unsupported by data or reasoning. Some argue the bill will shut down many pet stores, but the overwhelming majority of pet stores in New York, and nationally, do not sell dogs, cats, or rabbits. Most outlets—whether small, locally-owned businesses or larger retailers—thrive in this booming, $100 billion industry through the sales of food and supplies and services including grooming and boarding.

The bill would also allow pet stores to start or continue their partnerships with local animal shelters and rescue organizations to showcase homeless animals for adoption, which increases the opportunities for existing vulnerable animals to be adopted into safe and loving homes.

And although the ASPCA hopes New Yorkers will always consider adopting pets, those who wish to buy a puppy can continue to work directly with responsible breeders who are proud to invite families to see where the puppy was bred as well as meet the puppy’s parents.

The Puppy Mill Pipeline Bill has one purpose: to close the commercial pipeline that uses animal cruelty as an avenue to profit. Creating suffering to further sales is abhorrent and unacceptable in New York or anywhere.

New Yorkers across the state and celebrities including Edie Falco, Andy Cohen, Brooke Shields, and Sir Patrick Stewart have expressed their support for this bill.

If you live in New York, please contact your New York State Assemblymember and urge them to support this bill to shut down the puppy mill pipeline.

Originally published in One Green Planet