Bill banning pet stores from selling dogs, cats and rabbits passes New York Legislature

Bill banning pet stores from selling dogs, cats and rabbits passes New York Legislature

A bill that would ban pet stores in New York state from selling dogs, cats and rabbits has passed the state legislature and is awaiting the signature of Gov. Kathy Hochul (D).

The bill, passed by lawmakers this week, is largely aimed at tackling large-scale “puppy factory”-style breeding farms. However, the bill does not directly target these entities, many of which exist outside of New York and thus outside the jurisdiction of New York State. Instead, it focuses on pet shops, which primarily source their pets from such locations, according to the animal rights activists and lawmakers supporting the bill.

“Right now, out-of-state puppy mills are shipping their puppies through a pipeline of middlemen to New York City pet stores where they are marketed as healthy puppies from responsible breeders,” Maureen Linehan, a spokeswoman for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty Animals, said in an email to HuffPost.

The bill encourages pet shops to partner with animal shelters and rescue groups and use their retail space to “showcase” animals put up for adoption.

New York’s bill aims to curb “puppy mill” type breeders and encourage adoption of homeless animals.

Joshblake via Getty Images

New York legislation would not completely ban people from buying animals from breeders. It would still be legal for breeders to sell animals directly to prospective pet owners; The legislation would only ban sales by third-party dealers, such as pet shops.

The bill has the support of numerous animal advocacy groups, including the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the United States, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the New York State Animal Protection Federation, among others.

However, the legislation met with opposition from the pet retail industry as well as the American Kennel Club. The AKC routinely opposes retail pet bans, arguing that the laws are “anti-breeder” and hurt consumers in the pet market.

If signed into law, the law will ban pet stores in New York from selling cats, dogs and rabbits, making it the latest of its kind in the US to be passed statewide.
If signed into law, the law will ban pet stores in New York from selling cats, dogs and rabbits, making it the latest of its kind in the US to be passed statewide.

According to the ASPCA, New York state has one of the highest concentrations of pet stores selling puppies in the state. This makes the calculation particularly significant.

In 2017, California passed a law banning pet stores from selling unrescued cats, dogs, and rabbits. Meanwhile, Maryland, Maine, Illinois and the state of Washington have enacted similar laws.

Additionally, numerous cities and counties across the country have enacted local pet sales bans. Prior to this bill, New York City already banned pet stores from selling rabbits — though not cats and dogs — in part due to welfare issues specific to the long-eared animals. Some people mistake rabbits for low-maintenance “starter pets” when in reality they require highly specialized care.

Rabbits can make great pets, but people often don't realize the amount of space, time, and effort they need to thrive.
Rabbits can make great pets, but people often don’t realize the amount of space, time, and effort they need to thrive.

Simon Potter via Getty Images

One of the nation’s most sweeping pet bans is in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where pet stores are banned from selling birds, reptiles, spiders and small mammals like hamsters and gerbils — unless the animals are from a shelter or rescue group. The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals campaigned for the law, citing the poor conditions these animals often endure on factory farms.

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