New York is poised to ban the sale of cats, dogs and rabbits at pet stores next year, pushing customers instead to adopt pets for their households.
A long-debated bill prohibiting the sale of these animals at pet shops in the state passed the state Legislature earlier this year, and it’s currently awaiting a signature from Gov. Kathy Hochul.
It’s meant to target the puppy mill industry, which often raises cats, dogs and other animals in inhumane conditions for the purpose of future sale with a high price tag. This treatment can result in bad behaviors or physical health problems for the animal later in life.
“Families are often unprepared for the financial loss and heartbreak that come with buying a sick puppy,” a statement from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) read in June, after the bill passed in New York.
Pet store owners pushed back on the legislation, saying it unfairly characterizes all pet shops as complicit with animal cruelty and the puppy mill pipeline, and it would put them out of business if enacted.
New York isn’t alone in greenlighting this type of legislation — other states like California and Illinois have passed similar bans in recent years. New York Attorney General Letitia James sued several pet shops in recent years for lying to customers about the origin of their dogs for sale (the dogs came from commercial breeders and puppy mills) or failing to disclose puppies’ true breeds or medical conditions.
“Our animals should not be treated like commodities,” said state Sen. Michael Gianaris, D-Queens, a sponsor of the most recent bill, on Twitter in June.
Here’s what it’ll mean for people hoping to bring a new pet into their family sometime soon.
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The bill wouldn’t apply to breeders
It would only apply to retail pet shops, or “any for-profit place of business that sells or offers for sale animals to be kept as household pets,” according to the bill text.
But the ban would not include breeders who “sell directly to the consumer animals that are born and raised on the breeder’s residential premises.”
It would allow pet shops to collaborate to offer pets for adoption
Pet stores could display their animals for prospective owners at adoption events in conjunction with local adoption agencies.
This move could help take the pressure off New York shelters or adoption facilities, some of which have an overflow of dogs that were acquired during the pandemic but have since been returned or abandoned as their onetime owners went back to their offices, Libby Post, of the New York State Animal Protection Federation, told the New York Times.
If signed, it would take effect next year
If you’re in the middle of buying a pet from a local pet shop, don’t worry about the sale being canceled.
If Hochul signs the bill, it wouldn’t kick in until a year after that date.