Matt’s Blog: A Major Victory for Dogs, Cats, and Rabbits in New York

December 15, 2022

black silhouette of a dog jump of a tan back ground with a green butterfly next to it with the text: The Puppy Mill Pipeline into NY will be shut down

By ASPCA President & CEO Matt Bershadker

For years, the ASPCA has been hard at work leading a coalition of regional, statewide and national animal welfare organizations to support state legislation to shut down the puppy mill pipeline by ending the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits in New York pet stores. I'm happy and proud to say that with your help, we have finally succeeded!

After passing the New York Assembly and State Senate by large bipartisan majorities, the New York Puppy Mill Pipeline Bill was signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul today. As a result, New York will go from having one of the country’s highest concentrations of pet stores that sell puppy mill puppies to a place that refuses to be an accomplice in this cruel process. 

This victory would not have been possible without the persistent voices of our partners, volunteers, and advocates in New York. Over the past two years, tens of thousands of them rallied to this cause, sending nearly 50,000 messages of support for the bill to state legislators, and we cannot thank them enough. We are grateful to the law's authors, Senator Michael Gianaris (D-Queens) and Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan), for their hard work and steadfast dedication to this cause.  

We are hopeful that this enormous step by New York State may encourage other states to take similar action to stop the cruel commercial breeding industry from supplying pet stores within their borders. We stand ready to support those initiatives so that, together, we can end puppy mills on a national scale. 

For those who may be unaware, puppy mills make money by breeding dogs over and over in cruel conditions and selling huge numbers of puppies to pet stores. The puppies are kept in wire crates in extremely hot and cold temperatures without proper shelter, veterinary care, food, or socialization. Breeding dogs spend their entire lives in these conditions, forced to produce puppy after puppy. 

The only value these animals have to puppy mill operators is to deliver as much "inventory" as possible. The puppies are then shipped out like appliances to pet stores and often presented to unsuspecting customers as healthy animals—even when that claim is far from the truth

New York State is one of the puppy mill industry's largest markets. A recent ASPCA report [PDF] reveals that almost half of the puppies shipped to New York pet stores arrive by truck from Missouri, which has the most puppy mills in the U.S., keeping the puppy mill-to-pet store pipeline active and profitable year after year.

Examples of puppy mill cruelty are not hard to find but surprisingly hard to stop. Just last year, the ASPCA helped rescue more than 500 dogs living in horrific conditions at Iowa properties operated by Daniel Gingerich—a USDA-licensed breeder—despite having close to 150 violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act documented at his facilities. Public documents show that more than one-third of New York's puppy-selling pet stores imported Gingerich's puppies. 

The USDA has failed at its job of regulating breeders and holding them accountable, and we are taking decisive action including a lawsuit against the USDA and our support of Goldie's Act, named after one of the dogs who died after suffering from extreme neglect at Gingerich's facility. Goldie’s Act will better ensure the USDA does its job by requiring it to conduct more meaningful inspections of licensed breeding facilities, intervene in cases of suffering animals, and impose appropriate penalties for animal welfare violations. The Act will also mandate that the USDA report conditions involving cruelty and neglect to local law enforcement. I encourage you to learn more about Goldie’s Act and how you can support it. 

New York City is where the animal welfare movement took root in America—driven largely by ASPCA founder Henry Bergh in 1866. The Puppy Mill Pipeline Law reinforces New York’s standing as a national beacon for humane policy by ending a longstanding chapter of systemic cruelty.