NEW YORK—Animal rights activists are urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a bill that they believe will help curb the flow of puppy mill pets into New York City.
Introduced by Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal, the bill would allow municipalities to regulate the sources of animals sold at pet stores, the conditions of breeding facilities, and the spaying and neutering of dogs.
Breeding facilities across the nation are said to mass produce designer pups in cruel conditions in pursuit of profit. The facilities, known as puppy mills, then sell the dogs to pet shops or online.
“We need to end the puppy mill pipeline,” Rosenthal said on the steps of City Hall on Nov. 1, noting that the puppy mills are often underground operations.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of Inspector General released a report in 2010, which inspected 68 licensed breeding facilities across the nation.
Some facilities had dogs severely infested with ticks. Others had dogs with neglected wounds. In some places, dogs were forced to live in kennels with toxic levels of urine and feces odor, among other violations.
One broker facility in Oklahoma housed 545 adult dogs. The inspector reported an excessive number of insects and cockroaches “crawling on walls, the floor, and the ceiling. Food bowls were also infested with dead and live cockroaches.”
Sens. Brad Hoylman and Jose Serrano support the bill. According to Serrano, everyone in the state’s 29th District agrees that puppy mills should be stopped.
“A common thread throughout the entire district is the love for animals,” Serrano said.
According to Andrew Kaplan, a veterinarian, the bigger picture is that the malpractices at puppy mills produce dogs with genetic disorders or dogs that develop serious health issues later in their lives.
“The consumer doesn’t know, what they see is a cute puppy. Then I get them when they come to my office and I see genetic heart problems, genetic urinary problems, genetic joint and bone problems,” Kaplan said.
Because most owners can’t afford to pay for the dog’s health care, they give the dogs up to already overpopulated shelters. Some of the pets get picked up by rescue organizations.
One of the most popular pet stores in Midtown Manhattan that sees protesters outside its store on a regular basis is CitiPups, located on Eighth Avenue between 17th and 18th streets.
When approached after the announcement Friday afternoon, the store’s general manager, Leo Jacoby, who’s worked at the store for over 11 years, said he’s confident that dogs at Citipups are not from puppy mills.
“I stand behind every dog that we sell here,” Jacoby said.
Jacoby added that he has been getting his dogs from the same breeders for a long time. He researchers the breeders and does business only with legitimate ones.
A wall in the back of the store displays around a dozen photos of Jacoby and the people who breed the dogs he sells. One photo showed an older man holding French bulldog puppies, another—a woman with toy Australian shepherd puppies.
“We’re not talking to people that don’t have permits or have mistreated dogs,” Jacoby said. He did not to disclose the names of the breeders he does business with.
According to Jacoby, there are pet stores in Brooklyn and Queens that haven’t maintained good reputations, haven’t adhered to any regulations, and only focus on making profits off animals.
“By my house, there’s a small pet store [and] it’s in very bad condition,” Jacoby said.