New York Following Cali’s Lead On Pet Store Law

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If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. That’s the approach two New York legislators are taking as they push for the passage of a new law regulating how people can acquire pets.

According to recent media reports,  the state lawmakers, who represent different New York City boroughs, co-sponsored the legislation that would prevent pet stores from selling small animals and companion animals obtained from “large commercial breeders.”

Instead, the pet stores will be required to source and sell animals from licensed rescue shelters or humane societies. The law would also allow the humane society or shelter to keep any animal not sold/adopted through the shops.

The proposed measure failed to gain any support last year. However, proponents are optimistic that will now change with the power shift in the state legislature.

Jumping on the bandwagon

This idea isn’t unique to New York. Not too long ago, I wrote about a similar measure currently being considered in Connecticut.

dog parade, puttin on the dog, 2018
An Adopt-A-Dog volunteer with a dog available for adoption. Puttin’ On The Dog, 2018. Photo by A. Bogdanovic

Like the proposed legislation in New York, the Connecticut measure failed to gain any support in the past. Although a fire at a Danbury, Connecticut pet store prompted renewed interest in the issue, it also sparked concern.

“We’ve been sending home between 60 to 80 puppies a month, and we’ve been doing it for 25 years. Most of the people who come to us are looking for pure-bred dogs, which many local rescues don’t offer,” Sean Silverman, the owner of Puppy Love in Danbury told the media.

“If stores like ours are unable to provide the type of puppies that people want, then some 15 to 20 thousand people here in Connecticut will go on the internet, get a dog with zero regulations, and have it shipped, but will not get any guarantees, it’s just putting these people in a bad situations.”

Because some state lawmakers have express reservations as well, there is no guarantee the measure will pass.

California law enactment sets precedence

Earlier this year, California became the first state with this type of law.

Inked by Governor Jerry Brown in October 2017, the new law (which included provisions giving businesses time to adjust) takes aim at so-called “puppy mills” and “kitten factories.” While it does not prohibit people from buying small- and companion animals directly from breeders,  it does mandate that pet stores throughout the state sell only dogs, cats and rabbits sourced from shelters and rescues.

“By offering puppies, kittens, and rabbits for adoption from nearby shelters, pet stores can save the lives of animals in search of a home, save the breeding animals trapped in puppy mills, and relieve pressure on county budgets and local tax payers,” a fact sheet said.

Among other things, SEC. 2. Section 122354.5(c) of California’s Health and Safety Code now mandates that pet stores keep detailed records of the animals made available to the public. Specifically, pet shop owners must “post, in a conspicuous location on the cage or enclosure of each animal, a sign listing the name of the public animal control agency or shelter, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals shelter, humane society shelter, or nonprofit from which each dog, cat, or rabbit was obtained.” Pet shop owners must also make this information available to  public animal control agencies or shelters upon request.

As stipulated in SEC. 2.Section 122354.5(e) of the state Health and Safety Code,  pet store owners that don’t comply with the new law faces a civil penalty (fine) of five hundred dollars ($500) for each animal “offered for sale in violation of this section.”

In conclusion

Clearly, these laws — like any others — have their share of pros and cons. Proponents hope they’ll put an end to puppy mills and kitten factories, while easing the burden on animal shelters and rescue groups. Opponents are concerned about over regulation.

The bottom line is that only time will tell whether the type of legislation passed in California will become law elsewhere.

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