This legislative session, a bill was introduced in the New York State Senate and Assembly that would ban all retail sales of dogs, cats and rabbits. It is a ‘Rescue Only’ bill, like those passed in California and Maryland, though it was deemed a ‘Puppy Mill Ban’ by animal activist groups who pushed hard on legislators to support it. In California, this law went into effect and the negative consequences are already being seen. Stores are closing, animals have lost their protections and consumers are being scammed. This bill would end the brick and mortar pet store industry in New York, yet wouldn’t put a stop to the unregulated breeding and sales of dogs.
Pet Stores achieved their goal of keeping this bill from being brought to a vote this session, because they feel that it is not just bad for their businesses, but bad for New York and bad for animals. Stores get, on average, 75% of their income from the sale of animals. The passage of this bill would, without a doubt, put them out of business, leaving thousands of people without jobs. The communities that these businesses are a part of would also lose an important resource to find pets who come with a detailed history and good health, as well as a level of consumer protection guaranteed by law. The New York State economy would also miss out on almost $1,000,000,000 of taxable revenue in just the first year of the ban. Pet stores are often small and local, and many have been open for decades and passed through families. They are known to provide support to local charities and organizations, as well as animal rescues.
Bills like this are proposed and sold to legislators as protecting the safety and well-being of animals. This is pet stores foremost concern as animal lovers, but this bill will put animals in more danger. Getting rid of a legal and well-regulated option to purchase animals will drive pet sales online, where there is no oversight for the treatment and conditions of animals, and scams abound. Animals will not be afforded the protections that USDA inspections guarantee them and will be left to the mercy of underground breeders and sellers. All families who want to bring an animal into their home have unique needs and requirements and unfortunately a rescue pet is not right for everyone. Many people have allergies, small apartments, young children or family members with special needs, and a dog with an unknown history or unpredictable temperament would not be right for them. Dogs who are adopted from shelters sometime end up back there because people are not prepared for the extra care that they require. Pet stores owners believe anyone who wants to make room in their heart for an animal should have the opportunity to find one who is a good match for them. This bill takes away all freedom of choice for consumers and all the protections that brick and mortar pet stores provide. Animal lovers should have the choice to shop or adopt when welcoming a new family member.
Pet store owners worked tirelessly this session to educate lawmakers about the harmful effects of this bill and to inform them that the stated goal of protecting animals would not be accomplished. Customers and supporters were mobilized to email and call legislators, meet with legislators in their district offices and organize a lobby day to meet with lawmakers and their staff in Albany. The controversial perspective was well-received and many people supported the opposition of this bill after learning the facts and details. This bill will be voted on in the next session. Pet store owners plan to keep meeting with lawmakers and staff to share their opposition to the bill. They know everyone has the best interests of animals at heart, but this bill only sounds like a solution to those who are ignorant about its unintended consequences. They look forward to continuing to work with lawmakers in the process of drafting a bill that provides safe and fair regulations to all animals looking for homes, and keeps small businesses active in and contributing to local communities and New York State.