May 28, 2019

Stopping Puppy Mills Means Stopping Pet Store Sales That Keep Cruelty in Business

By ASPCA President & CEO Matt Bershadker

Behind nearly every sale of a pet store puppy is a tragedy: the success of a puppy mill—a cruel factory for mass-producing dogs—in reaping a heartless profit. In response to weak federal laws and inadequate governmental enforcement of humane standards, state and local leaders—supported by animal lovers and advocates—have been standing up for these vulnerable animals by banning the sale of pets in pet stores, effectively closing the puppy mill-to-pet store pipeline.

To date, nearly 300 cities and two states across the nation have enacted prohibitions on the retail sale of dogs and cats by pet stores. Now New York, which has one of the highest concentrations of pet stores in the nation, is working toward that humane goal.

Earlier this year, Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Queens) and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan) introduced state legislation that would prohibit the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores across New York. New York City Councilmember Justin Brannan (D-Brooklyn) also introduced a city resolution in support of this measure.

New York’s leaders know the idea of stopping puppy mills this way is extremely popular. A recent poll commissioned by the ASPCA found eight out of 10 New Yorkers would support a ban on the sale of puppy mill dogs in their state. They also know they can’t rely on the USDA—the agency tasked with oversight of the facilities that supply animals to pet stores—to police commercial pet breeders effectively.  In February 2017, the USDA abruptly removed tens of thousands of vital breeder inspection reports that were previously available online to anyone, including consumers, local enforcement agencies and pet store owners. Despite several attempts by lawmakers and animal welfare groups—including a second lawsuit filed by the ASPCA—the USDA has continued to suppress this information for more than two years.

This blocking of efforts to protect vulnerable animals—sadly coming from the only federal department assigned to protect vulnerable animals—makes it clear why decisive action must be taken not only against puppy mills, but also at the pet stores that keep those unconscionable operations in business.

Actress Edie Falco recently spoke out in support of the state legislation, sharing the story of her dog, Sami, who was rescued from a puppy mill.

“My dog Sami has been a cherished member of my family for the last eight years, but her first two years of life were spent living in a box, in the dark, without a name. She made puppies that were sold in pet stores, and that was her life,” said Falco. “There are many animals living in similarly horrific circumstances right now, suffering unimaginable horrors, while their puppies are shipped off and sold to pet stores across the country. New York State has a chance to break that cycle of cruelty, and the time to act is now.”

The New York Legislature adjourns in just a few short weeks, and the pet industry is working day and night to kill this measure. Animals are companions, not commodities, and they need your firm voice to make sure our laws protect both them and their potential owners. Please contact your state legislators and ask them to approve this bill to ensure dogs like Sami will no longer have to suffer in dark, cramped and dirty conditions, but instead experience the love and safety they deserve.