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Queens Chronicle

New bill protects the doggy in the window

Local government may now be able to regulate unsafe puppy mills

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Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2013 10:30 am

Neglectful and abusive puppy mills beware, as the state Senate and Assembly have both passed a bill that will allow strong regulation of pet dealers.

Along with a City Council resolution, spearheaded by Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D- Middle Village), a number of animal rights activists testified before the Senate and Assembly on the horrors that can occur in puppy mills.

Puppy mills or puppy farms are commercial dog-breeding facilities that prioritize profits above animal welfare, which often results in subpar treatment of the dogs.

“The dogs are kept without adequate food or water and the female dogs are bred at every opportunity,” said Cori Menkin, senior director of the ASPCA Puppy Mills Campaign, who testified before the Senate. “But when it comes to the living conditions, we’re talking more about the adult dogs. The puppies are actually quite lucky and many of them get out of the facility before big problems hit.”

Even though the breeding dogs face harsher living conditions, Menkin added that puppies that are bred in such conditions are susceptible to genetic diseases that develop as the dog gets older.

“A responsible breeder will have the dogs tested before they breed them, and if they find one is prone to disease, they will take them out of the breeding line rather than continue using them,” she said.

Cracking down on puppy mills is a movement that has been developing across the nation. As the bill, which would allow local governments to regulate breeders, was passed in New York, a similar bill was passed in New Jersey as well. There is also puppy mill legislation in other states.

“We don’t want to support breeders who are engaging in cruel activities,” Menkin said. “If you have a problematic breeder, that town should be able to regulate that breeder.”

Pet stores often utilize a pet dealer who acts as the middleman between the store and the mill. Many stores receive their dogs by filling out a form — similar to a form supermarkets fill out when they are low on merchandise — and check off the various breeds they want delivered.

“Pet stores are getting puppies from puppy mills and the standards of how a puppy is bred by a puppy mill is not regulated by the state and it’s not regulated by the federal government,” Crowley said. “More and more puppies are being abandoned or coming down with diseases because thousands and thousands of them are being bred everyday in these puppy mills.”

Ideally, the ASPCA and Animal Control would like everyone looking for a pet to adopt an animal at a local shelter such as Bobbi and the Strays in Rego Park or North Shore Animal League in Port Washington, LI, but if you insist on having a particular breed, Menkin has a few red flags to look out for.

“The ASPCA is not against breeding in general, we just want responsible breeders,” she said. “A responsible breeder is not going to sell a dog to a pet store and is not going to sell a dog online without ever meeting you. As a consumer, it is important to go to the breeder’s facility and see where the breeding dogs live. If the breeder won’t show you that, that’s a red flag. Also, be wary of a breeder who asks to meet you in a parking lot or public place or people who are selling puppies on the side of the road.”

Now that the bill has passed both branches of state government, it will be up to Gov. Cuomo to sign it into law though many lawmakers and animal groups are optimistic about its chances.

“We’re feeling confident,” Menkin said. “We’ve been getting good feedback. If they’d like to, people can actually log onto the website: nopetstorepuppies.com where there is a database that goes inside 10,000 commercial facilities where you can see photos of any nearby facility that you are thinking of getting a dog from.”

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