New York will become the latest state to ban retail pet stores from selling dogs, cats and rabbits under a new law designed to fight back against shops that do business with so-called “puppy mills.”
Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the measure into law on Thursday after cutting a deal with lawmakers to ensure it goes into effect two years from now, rather than one year — which the bill initially called for.
Once it takes effect, for-profit pet stores won’t be able to sell dogs, cats or rabbits, but they will be permitted to provide space to animal shelters to display pets up for adoption. A handful of states, including California and Maryland, already have similar laws on the books, as do more than 300 municipalities and counties across the country, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
"Dogs, cats and rabbits across New York deserve loving homes and humane treatment,” Hochul said in a statement. "I'm proud to sign this legislation, which will make meaningful steps to cut down on harsh treatment and protect the welfare of animals across the state."
Advocates for the law, including the ASPCA, say it will promote more humane forms of acquiring pets by cutting out stores that do business with commercial dog breeders from out of state.
“Most pet stores source their animals from puppy mills from out of state — Missouri and Iowa and Ohio and Pennsylvania — where we can’t regulate their practices,” said Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan). “But we can say what we want sold in New York state. There are hundreds of thousands of adoptable cats, dogs and bunnies that are at our rescues, at shelters.”
Rosenthal sponsored the bill alongside Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Queens).
The new law drew opposition from a coalition of pet store owners that calls itself People United to Protect Pet Integrity, or PUPPI.
PUPPI President Jessica Selmer said the law could end up putting at least 80 shops across the state out of business, and said it won’t do anything to shut down out-of-state breeders.
“Disappointed just doesn't cover it,” Selmer said of Hochul’s decision to sign the bill. “We had hoped the governor would see through the charade and recognize that this bill is careless, dangerous and counterproductive to its purpose — but apparently those hopes were too high.”
As part of its agreement with Hochul’s office, the state Legislature will have to pass an amendment to ensure the bill takes effect Dec. 15, 2024, rather than 2023. That will likely happen when state lawmakers return to the Capitol in January.