Gianaris Bill Aims to Stop the Puppy Mill Pipeline

February 04, 2020

Originally published in The National Herald on February 04, 2020.

ALBANY, NY – Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris announced his legislation (S.4234-A) to prohibit sales of dogs, cats, and rabbits in retail pet stores passed the Domestic Animal Welfare committee, the first procedural hurdle to the bill becoming a law. In addition, Senator Gianaris announced the legislation now has 17 Senate cosponsors.

“With so many good animals in need of rescue, there is no need for puppy mills that abuse animals to supply pet stores. Our four-legged companions should be treated with respect, not like commodities,” said Senate Deputy Leader Gianaris. “I am pleased this important legislation moved out of committee and continues to build momentum with many of my Senate colleagues.”

The co-sponsors now include Domestic Animal Welfare Committee Chair Senator Monica Martinez, Senator Todd Kaminsky, Senator John Brooks, Senator Joseph Addabbo, Senator Alessandra Biaggi, Senator David Carlucci, Senator Andrew Gounardes, Senator Brad Hoylman, Senator Robert Jackson, Senator Liz Krueger, Senator John Liu, Senator Jessica Ramos, Senator Julia Salazar, Senator Jose Serrano, Senator Toby Stavisky, Senator James Skoufis, and Senator Phil Boyle.

Bill co-sponsor Senator Monica R. Martinez, Chair of the Committee on Domestic Animal Welfare said, “There is absolutely no excuse for the abuse and mistreatment that occurs in puppy mills. These defenseless animals often develop behavioral and physical health conditions due to the poor living environment they are raised in. Puppy mills subject animals to cruelty, physical and psychological abuse. Animals are voiceless and we, as policymakers, are tasked with the responsibility to protect them. This legislation encourages the adoption of animals and encourages a stop to the profit making on the backs of these defenseless animals. We must be their best friend and rescue them as they rescue us; they provide us with unconditional love which no human can provide another.”

“The conditions at these puppy mill businesses are sickening and it creates an unsafe environment for pets and patrons,” said bill co-sponsor Senator Todd Kaminsky. “This bill will put an end to that horrible practice and make sure animals are kept safe and healthy.”

“I’m proud to co-sponsor this bill because it honors those special bonds humans form with our domestic animal companions. There are so many wonderful animals in need of adoption—we must say no to puppy mills that feed a consumerist approach to our fellow living creatures,” said bill co-sponsor Senator Robert Jackson.

“The reality is, when you purchase a puppy, kitten and bunny from a pet store you are acting in support of puppy mills. There’s simply no way around it,” said Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan), who carries the legislation in the Assembly. “Animals are sentient creatures, and we must do all that we can to end the torture that takes place in puppy mills and to find homes for the loving animals crowding shelters and rescues. This bill will achieve those goals, and I look forward to working with my colleagues and the advocates to see it become law. Having worked on animal issues for years now, I can say with certainty that cutting off the pet store to puppy mill pipeline is among the most urgent humane issues of our time.”

The majority of animals available for sale in pet stores come from dog, cat and bunny mills. Offspring of mill animals often have congenital issues resulting from poor breeding and can cost families thousands of dollars in veterinary care.

Pet breeders and stores are loosely regulated under the Animal Welfare Act by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Recent investigations revealed, however, that under the Trump administration, USDA inspectors have been less aggressive in enforcing these regulations. In addition, the USDA is issuing fewer serious violations that would ordinarily trigger swift follow-up by the agency.

According to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the state agency tasked with regulating pet dealers, there are approximately 80 pet stores registered throughout the state.

Senator Gianaris is a leader on animal welfare issues in the Senate, passing the nation’s first-ever statewide ban on cat declawing. Additionally, he leads the fight to prevent retail pet stores from selling animals from puppy mills and instead promote pet adoption.

“New York State, which has one of the country’s highest concentrations of pet stores, needs to end the sale of cruelly-bred puppy mill dogs in those shops,” said Matt Bershadker, ASPCA President and CEO. “Shutting down the puppy mill pipeline will make it much harder for unscrupulous breeders to profit from their unconscionable brutality, and we thank Senator Gianaris and Assembly Member Rosenthal for their leadership on this bill.”