New York, N.Y. January 3rd, 2022 3pm New York has become the 6th state in the nation to adopt a new law making it so that pet stores can no longer sell dogs, cats, or rabbits. New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed the legislation in December of 2022 with a goal to end the pipeline between puppy mills and pet stores in the hopes of stopping abusive breeding practices. The New York law takes effect in 2024. California became the first state to pass a similar law in 2017, followed by Maine, Maryland, Illinois, and Washington.
What Does This Mean for Animals?
While the law includes cats and rabbits, it is aimed primarily at puppy mills. These mills are large, commercial breeding facilities that are mostly unregulated and known for their abusive, inhumane treatment of animals. Dogs are often kept in small, crowded, wire cages, unable to move around, and deprived of fresh air and sunlight. These mills make money by supplying puppies to pet stores.
The new law prohibits pet stores in New York from selling puppies from these mills. Instead, if they want to continue to profit from putting dogs, cats, and rabbits in the hands of humans, the stores have the option of renting their space for adoptions from animal shelters or rescue organizations. Supporters of the new law say this will help curb America’s homeless pet crisis.
The Humane Society Estimates That There Are At Least 10,000 Puppy Mills Currently Operating in the United States.
“This is a very big deal. New York tends to be a big purchaser and profiteer of these mills, and we are trying to cut off the demand at a retail level,” said New York State Senator Michael Gianaris, who supported the bill.
While less talked about than puppy mills, rabbit and kitten mills also exist, with similarly cruel environments. The New York State Humane Association estimates that 50% of rabbits die before even reaching pet shops.
Adopt, Don’t Shop!
Now that New York pet stores can no longer sell dogs, cats, or rabbits, animal rescue organizations are working hard to remind people that there are an incredible amount of companion animals in this country who need homes. The ASPCA estimates that, each year, 3.1 million dogs and 3.2 million cats enter the animal shelters in the U.S., and approximately 920,000 shelter animals are euthanized. The city of Los Angeles has been struggling with a pet overpopulation crisis that has led to scandalous conditions inside its shelters, with critics charging dogs can go for weeks without being walked and shouting matches erupting at public hearings on the issue. And, say animal activists, many of these now unwanted dogs are originally from puppy mills.
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Carrie Woods is a writer based in Indiana who comes from a family of journalists.