Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal’s Groundbreaking Legislation to Crack Down on Puppy Mills Becomes Law

January 10, 2014

New York, NY – Longtime animal advocate Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan) announced today that her legislation allowing local governments across the state to regulate the sale of animals by breeders and by pet stores, was signed into law today by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The bill takes effect immediately.

Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal introduced bill A.740-A/S.3750-A, to combat the ever-growing problems associated with the proliferation of puppy mills. “The vast majority of dogs purchased in pet stores come from puppy mills, and it is high time that we gave localities the ability to crack down on them,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan). “Puppy mill dogs are bred and kept in filthy, cramped and inhumane conditions; it’s no wonder that most of the animals at pet stores are riddled with serious, life-threatening health problems. This new law will allow municipalities across New York State to finally have the ability to say ‘no’ to puppy mills,” explained Rosenthal.

This law has been the subject of a massive campaign by animal advocates statewide who have fought for it for months, despite vigorous opposition from the pet industry. Puppy mills, prevalent in upstate New York and on Long Island, are large-scale commercial breeders who, motivated by profit above all else, disregard good veterinary practice and the health and safety of the animals. This law goes into effect as activists around the country continue to push to shut down puppy mills.

Currently, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets regulates all sales of animals by pet dealers. Chapter 553 of 2013 of the Laws of the State of New York will restore to municipalities the authority to enact laws, rules and regulations that are stronger than existing state regulations. Specifically, the bill will allow municipalities to prevent the sale of animals bred in puppy mills, to require that animals be spayed and neutered before sale and to allow only the sale of healthy animals in pet stores, among other things. The State continues to have concurrent authority to regulate pet dealers in New York.

Municipalities had the authority to regulate local pet dealers until 2001 when, driven by the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) and against the opposition of the then-Mayor of New York City and others, the State Legislature enacted a measure that deprived municipalities of the right to regulate the sale of dogs and cats in their communities.

“The current one-size-fits-all approach to pet store regulation constrains localities, which know the distinct needs of their communities,” said Rosenthal. “Giving local governments the ability to ban the sale of dogs from puppy mills will help bring an end to an abusive industry that thrives off the suffering of helpless, innocent animals.”

This law will also help to alleviate the burden on animal shelters and rescue groups that often become responsible for puppy mill animals suffering from serious illness after they are surrendered by their owners who are either unable or unwilling to bear the costs of their care.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) was among one of the bill's strongest allies and worked closely with Assemblymember Rosenthal to champion this measure with legislators. Bill Ketzer, Senior State Director of ASPCA Government Relations for the Northeast Region said, “Assemblymember Rosenthal was among the first to realize that the commercial puppy trade leaves thousands of animals vulnerable to disease, injury and inhumane treatment each year. The ASPCA thanks Governor Cuomo for enacting this measure, which will finally allow local governments – whose courts, not-for-profit animal shelters, and taxpayers absorb the costs associated with inhumane breeders and unwanted pet store dogs – to protect animals, their communities, and their bottom line.”

In addition to the ASPCA, this bill was also supported by a broad array of groups and municipalities, including: the Humane Society of the Unites States, NYCLASS, NYS Association of Counties (NYSAC), NYS Conference of Mayors (NYCOM), Association of Towns (AoT), Humane Society of New York, New York City Council, Lollypop Farm (Humane Society of Greater Rochester), Helping Paw (Syosset, NY), ASPCA of Erie County, ASPCA of Chemung County, NYS Humane Association, NYS Animal Protection Federation, ASPCA of Suffolk County, Bar Association of the City of New York – Animal Law Committee, SPCA Humane Corps and New Yorkers Against Puppy Mills.