Suffolk County’s Puppy Mill Bill – A Labor of Love
Suffolk County is the first municipality in New York State to regulate pet dealers and the source of the puppies they offer for sale to unknowing consumers. The “Puppy Mill Bill”, sponsored by Legislator Jay Schneiderman and Legislator “Doc” Spencer passed the legislature unanimously on June 3rd, 2014 in Hauppauge.
The bill sets standards for cage size, how cages are stacked, and will require dealers to provide inspection reports of the breeding facilities on request as well as post publicly that that information is available.
The bill also bans dealers in the county from buying animals from commercial breeding facilities that have:
- A direct violation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (which regulates breeders) within the past two years
- ‘No access’ violations on the two most recent inspection reports from the USDA
- Three or more different indirect violations, other than “no access violations,” on the most recent USDA reporter
- One or more recurring indirect violations on the most recent USDA report
There would also be a fine up to $500 per violation.
Barbara Dennihy, a local animal advocate spearheaded a movement to regulate pet dealers in Suffolk County in 2010. Along with other local animal advocates she went before Suffolk legislators asking for a ban on the sale of puppies in Suffolk County to combat puppy mill abuse. FOIL documents from New York State Agriculture Department show pet stores in Suffolk County source their puppies from horrible puppy mills some with horrible violations from the USDA against breeding dogs. Nothing could be done at that time because of an existing preemption in the NYS Agriculture law.
After a 3 year long campaign by animal advocates from all over New York State to get the preemption lifted, this past January Governor Cuomo signed a bill to lift the preemption allowing local municipalities to regulate pet dealers as long as they do not pass any bill to ban the retail sale of puppies that are raised in a safe and healthy manner. Before the ink was dry Barbara contacted Legislator Schneiderman and asked him to sponsor a bill to regulate pet dealers in Suffolk County. Working with local animal advocates and Schneiderman a bill was put together to regulate pet dealers. This is a first step in holding pet stores accountable. They can no longer hide the source of the puppies they sell. The real end to this horrible business practice lies with the consumers. They need to stop buying puppies from retail stores and over the internet.
“If you cannot meet the parents or at least the mother of the puppy, see the condition of the kennel the dogs live in, see the veterinary records for the parent dogs, and check references – then you should not purchase that puppy. If you do, you are probably supporting puppy mill cruelty. Pet stores use puppy mills to get puppies, that is a fact.”
My husband and I joined this effort near the tail end to help where we were able. We do not just get involved with awareness and fundraising, but on the legislation level too! My heart is full today!