Bill would ban sale of puppies, kittens, rabbits at pet stores
By Tory N. Parrish, Newsday (NY)
June 6, 2019
Proposed state legislation that would ban pet stores from selling dogs, cats and rabbits would put those shops out of business if it becomes law, animal retailers said.
"To say that I'm the problem is just a blatant lie. I'm just an easy target because I'm a public business," said Joe Sollicito, who owns Love My Puppies NY, a 13-year-old pet shop in Wantagh.
The legislation, introduced by state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) and Assemb. Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) in March, aims to stop the flow of animals from “puppy mills” and other high-volume commercial breeding operations to New York pet stores, the legislators said.
“Often times, these animals have health issues because they were bred in unsanitary and unhealthy ways. The health issues don’t reveal themselves for years, in some cases,” said Gianaris, the Senate’s deputy majority leader.
If the proposal becomes law, pet stores in the state would be allowed to offer space for animal shelters and rescue centers to showcase dogs, cats and rabbits that are available for adoption, instead of the shops selling the animals to customers. Consumers still would be able to purchase the animals directly from breeders.
Nationally, 6 percent of pet dogs, 3 percent of pet cats and 27 percent of pet rabbits are puchased from pet shops or pet superstores, according to a 2016 survey by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Pet shop advocates said the legislation is unnecessary because shops in New York State sell animals from Class A wholesale breeders certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
If enacted, the legislation would destroy the business of Love My Puppies NY, Sollicito said.
“It would be decimated,” said Sollicito, whose shop offers pet grooming and sells mostly hypoallergenic, non-shedding small dogs, such as Maltese, Yorkshire terriers and shih tzus.
He is a responsible dog seller, he said. “I know where they come from. I know where they were raised. I know where they were bred …. and I also see the parents of the dogs.”
About 30 pet shops across the state, nearly half of which are on Long Island, are members of People United to Protect Pet Integrity Inc., or PUPPI, a nonprofit formed in 2017, said attorney David Schwartz, a founding partner at Gotham Government Relations & Communications, a Garden City-based firm lobbying against the legislation on behalf of the retailers.
The bills would put New York State’s brick-and-mortar pet stores out of business and drive consumers to black-market animal sellers online, he said.
“We’re not against regulations. We’re just for smart regulations,” he said.
Several animal rights groups voiced support for the bills.