NY could ban puppy sales at pet stores

Read the original article by Beth Adams at wskg.org here.

New York would become the third state to ban the sale of certain animals in pet stores under a proposal in the state legislature.

California and Maryland passed similar measures last year.

CREDIT MICHELLE RILEY/THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES / WWW.HUMANESOCIETY.ORGThe New York law would prevent pet store owners from selling dogs, cats, and rabbits. Assembly member Linda Rosenthal, a Democrat from Manhattan who co-sponsored the bill with fellow Democrat Michael Gianaris, Deputy Leader in the Senate, said the vast majority of puppies for sale in pet stores come from puppy mills and are subjected to horrific conditions.

“The breeders keep the animals trapped in filthy cages,” she said. “They’re bred over and over and over again so the puppies that result are inbred and not healthy at all.”

Animal welfare organizations are applauding the proposal. Bill Ketzer, the ASPCA’s Northeast region senior director of state legislation, says pet stores rely on these operations.

“They almost have to source animals from these types of large breeding facilities,” he said. “They’re in the business of selling puppies; that’s what sells; that’s what they can charge a premium for.”

But a local pet store owner refutes that claim.

Jim Seidewand, owner of Pet World in East Rochester and Greece, has been in business for 48 years. He says while he believes puppy mills do exist, he thinks the problem is exaggerated.

Seidewand says he gets the puppies he sells from a reputable, USDA licensed breeder in Iowa.

“And I think one of the keys in handling good quality animals is to work with the same kennels year after year. Any problems we have with his puppies are his problems as well as our problems,” Seidewand said.

Pet World specializes in fish and aquatic displays and only sells puppies at its East Rochester location.  In 2018, they sold 68 puppies, which Seidewand called typical for any given year. He said Pet World would not go out of business if New York lawmakers passed the ban on puppy sales.

But Seidewand said the ban would not have the effect that Assemblymember Rosenthal intends.

“If you decide to pass a law like this,” Seidewand said, “do you honestly think that will affect what conditions puppies are being raised from? You’ve got massive numbers of puppies flowing outside of the pet store system from unknown sources. I would make the case that you want to keep the transparent, regulated, licensed source that gives you a warranty and lets you see how they care for their dogs every day.”

He says it makes more sense to extend existing regulations to apply to internet sales of dogs of unknown origins. “Look at the newspaper today,” Seidewand said, “Look at how many places are selling dogs….the unregulated sales of dogs is rampant. Let’s not start with the regulated part of it. Let’s start by regulating further.”

Rosenthal says Seidewand may be an example of a careful, upstanding business owner who does not deal in puppy mill supply, but many pet stores around the state and around the country do.

She believes her proposed legislation to prohibit puppy sales at pet stores could put puppy mills out of business and help humane organizations, too.

“So many consumers are duped into buying animals that they think are healthy,” Rosenthal said. “They spend thousands of dollars on them when there are thousands upon thousands of animals in shelters waiting to be adopted.”

Under New York State’s pet licensing law, an animal that is ill or has a contagious or infectious disease can be returned to a pet store within fourteen business days following its purchase.  A pet that is diagnosed by a veterinarian with a congenital malformation may be returned for a refund or exchanged for another animal within 180 days.

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