Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Suffolk County enacts legislation to crack down on puppy mills

Suffolk County legislators have passed a bill designed to stop pet stores from selling puppies and kittens raised in conditions that one animal advocate described as "horrific." More than a dozen Long Island animal advocates cheered and clapped as the bill got a unanimous vote at the Legislative Building in Hauppauge, NY.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone signed legislation that will regulate pet dealers within the county and help to crack down on large-scale commercial puppy mills. The law will prohibit the sale of animals from breeders who have a record of USDA violations and the sale of animals younger than eight weeks old.

Brian Shapiro, New York state director for the Humane Society of the United States issued the following statement:

"Suffolk County is the first municipality in New York to regulate pet dealers since state legislation in January allowed local governments to create such restrictions. We urge other communities to follow suit, and applaud Suffolk County’s leadership on this issue. The HSUS is pleased that local policymakers are helping to end the cruel treatment of man’s best friend in abusive puppy mills."

Sponsor of the new law, Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, issued the following statement:

"We are doing our part to put an end to this despicable industry that treats animals like worthless, disposable items. It will now be illegal for pet dealers to acquire puppies from breeders that do not meet basic standards for the humane treatment of animals."

"There's going to be a ripple effect," said Diane Madden, president of Hope for Hempstead Shelter located in Wantagh, NY.

The law will ban pet stores from selling dogs from "puppy mills" and cat breeders where inspections by the U.S. Department of Agriculture have found serious or repeated minor violations. Serious violations include unsanitary conditions and undersized cages, said Barbara Dennihy, director of Companion Animal Protection Society of New York.

"The conditions of the puppy mills are horrific," Dennihy said. "They view these dogs as property."

Legis. Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) called the legislation "the best in New York State to protect the welfare of these animals."

The bill sets standards for cage size and how cages are stacked at retailers, and requires stores to let buyers know that federal inspection reports of the breeders are available upon request. There will be a $500 fine per violation of the county law.

The law also requires the county consumer affairs department to conduct annual inspections of pet dealers that sell nine or more dogs or cats a year.

Sources: Humanesociety.org and Newsday.com
Image via Newsday.com (credit John Roca)

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