New York may ban animal sales in pet stores


On July 21, New York joined the growing number of states who have banned retail pet sales. The State Senate voted in favor of a bill that prohibits the sale of cats, dogs, and rabbits in all pet stores in the state.

Additionally, Senate Bill S4234A authorizes the showcasing of adoptable animals in pet stores in partnership with shelters, anti-cruelty societies and other animal protection organizations. The bill was sponsored by Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris and had 20 co-sponsors.

For the new bill to become law now, the State Assembly and Governor Andrew Cuomo both have to approve it. However, it is uncertain when this might happen; the Times Union reported that the bill doesn’t appear to be on the Assembly’s agenda yet.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) welcomed the news, tweeting the news and thanking Gianaris for championing the legislation, which would affect the 80 or pet stores around New York state.

“With so many good animals in need of rescue, there is no need for pet stores to sell animals that predominantly come from abusive puppy and kitten mills,” Gianaris said in a Senate press release. “Our four-legged companions should be treated with respect, not like commodities.”

Organizations like the ALDF have been fighting against puppy, kitten and rabbit mills for years. Such high-volume breeding facilities, which supply many pet stores with animals, have a reputation for poor living conditions and even animal abuse. A ban on selling animals in pet stores helps to eliminate these places, and also encourages people to adopt rescue animals.

“Pet stores that sell puppies may look good from the window, but rely on a recklessly inhumane system to make money, importing potentially sick animals from out-of-state puppy mills and deceptively passing them off to consumers as healthy pets from responsible breeders,” Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), said in the press release.

The first state to ban the sale of commercially-bred animals in pet stores was California, in 2017. Maryland passed a similar law in 2018. And hundreds of cities and counties, including Cook County (Chicago), Boston and Philadelphia, have also passed retail pet sale bans. On July 20, Holliston, Massachusetts became the latest city to pass a ban. The ALDF tweeted the news, using the hashtag #AdoptDontShop.

Of course, a ban on retail sales of pets doesn’t stop people buying animals from individual breeders, but this law would let prospective owners have more opportunity to see the animal’s living conditions, ask all the necessary questions about its lineage and health, and be satisfied that it comes from a responsible breeder and not a puppy mill.

Animals, News, Pets
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Claire Gillespie

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