New York City Council Introduces Puppy Mill Bill

March 7, 2014 Updated: March 9, 2014

After years of effort from animal rights advocates, New York City Council introduced a bill in late February that would prohibit the sale of pets bred in puppy mills and kitten mills. The bill also imposes strict new requirements on pet store when it comes to caring for the puppies and kittens they sell.

Kitten and puppy mills are high volume breeding operations designed to supply a steady stream of pets to pet stores around the nation. The mills have come under scrutiny of animal rights advocates because some keep pets in inhumane conditions.

The bill explicitly prohibits pet shops to “offer for sale, deliver, barter, auction, give away, transfer, or sell any dog or cat obtained from”  a high volume breeder.

The bill defines a high volume breeder as anyone who owns breeding animals and sells more than 50 of their offspring in a one-year period, or anyone who owns more than 20 breeding animals.

A puppy mill bill was impossible to introduce in New York City until January this year. Prior to that, the state government retained the right to regulate pet stores. Animal rights advocates pushed for the state to give up control to municipalities, in part because the state’s regulating agency was understaffed and underfunded to regulate all of the pet stores throughout New York.

As a result of the advocate’s efforts, a state bill passed in both the assembly and the Senate that gave municipalities like New York City the authority to regulate pet stores. Governor Cuomo signed the bill in January. Days later on Feb. 26, City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley introduced Intro 55, or the puppy mill bill, in the New York City Council.

New York State will still enforce state laws regarding pet stores, but any municipality is free to enact tougher measures. The draft of the New York City Council bill includes tough requirements for pet shops in areas of housing, sanitation, feeding and watering, handling, and veterinary care.

Council members Corey Johnson, Maria Del Carmen Arroyo, Costa Constantinides, Mark Levine, Annabel Palma, and James Vacca sponsored the bill.

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