A move to stop the sale of live animals raised or sold under inhumane conditions in New York could force local pet stores to close up.
New York’s roughly 80 pet stores are expected to change business models after lawmakers passed the Puppy Mill Pipeline bill before the end of the session. Legislation prohibits the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits. The measure, sponsored by Deputy Senate Majority Leader Mike Gianaris and Congresswoman Linda Rosenthal, aims to force the industry to buy or sell animals from large-scale farms like puppy mills.
Gary Nudelman, owner of NY Breeder and NYC Breeders downstate pet stores, said his nearly 40-year-old small business would be forced to close if the bill were passed into law.
“Supplies, dog food, this and that, you’re competing with Petco, PetSmart, Amazon, Chewy. It’s just that as a small business owner, we can’t buy in bulk like that,” Nudelman said. “We have to buy what we’re selling for this week or two, so our prices are higher.”
About 90% of Nudelman’s business comes from dog retail. The pair of pet shops employ 55 people.
Representatives from Governor Kathy Hochul’s office would not indicate whether the governor intends to enact the bill by the end of the year, or his response to its potential impact on business closures.
“Governor Hochul is reviewing the legislation,” Hochul spokesman Avi Small said Thursday.
Animal welfare campaigners have been pushing for the bipartisan measure to help end the sale of abused animals and encourage people to adopt pets not raised or sold in humane conditions.
The ASPCA defines a puppy mill as a large-scale dog breeding operation that prioritizes profit over animal welfare. Some commercial breeders keep their animals in confined spaces and lack proper veterinary care, food, or socialization.
“I don’t think this legislation, by itself, will put anyone out of business,” said Bill Ketzer, senior legislative director for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “If anything puts them out of business, it’s consumer education because people realize it’s a cruel, flawed system. What you do when you buy a puppy from a pet store , you are supporting an inherently cruel and flawed system that is not fixable.”
Nudelman sells about 1,000 dogs a year and buys his animals from several dog brokers that the ASPCA identifies as abusive puppy mills.
The ASPCA named Nudelman’s businesses as one of several New York pet stores that ship their puppies from commercial breeding facilities, primarily located in the Midwest, according to its April 2022 report “Where the New York pet stores get puppies”.
But Nudelman argues that the ASPCA reports are misleading and cite isolated incidents of a sick animal or a dirty cage with few details about where and when.
“We only deal with people with USDA licenses – they are no problem,” Nudelman said in defense of the breeders in the report. “They cite an example of a woman who sells thousands of dogs.”
The state does not have a legal definition for a puppy mill, and the phrase “puppy mill” is not found in the proposed legislation.
Nudelman showed several clean U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection records from breeders he works with, noting that breeders and pet store owners must keep complete records and a paper trail of every dog sold for several years.
“They can say whatever they want,” he said of the ASPCA. “They are militants. They are after us.
“Some of these stores, these things that they show on TV from these puppy mills, are not places we can get, and we wouldn’t want to get our dogs either,” he added.
Proponents of the bill say the USDA does not enforce animal welfare law and approves breeders’ licenses too easily.
“Just because someone gives you a license doesn’t mean they’re doing their job,” Ketzer said. “And we’ve seen it time and time again, these are not isolated incidents.”
A handful of lawmakers who voted against the bill argued that the measure will only hurt legitimate breeders or small businesses and won’t stop puppy mills from existing.
About 43% of puppies shipped to pet stores in New York arrive by truck from Missouri, home to 750 commercial dog breeders, according to the report.
About a quarter of puppies sent to New York pet stores for sale come from dog brokers.
“With so many good animals in need of rescue, there is no need for abusive puppy mills to supply pet stores, especially when less than two percent of the [$130 billion national] Pet store revenue comes from pet sales,” Gianaris said in a statement Thursday. puppies.”