New York bans sales of dogs, cats and rabbits in retail stores

New York State has officially banned the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits at retail pet stores in hopes of improving pet-adoption rates and ending the puppy-mill pipeline.

“Dogs, cats and rabbits across New York deserve loving homes and humane treatment,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said about the new law. “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.”

The legislation was signed on Thursday and will take effect in 2024.

The governor’s office said the law also aims to “prevent the buying and selling of animals from large-scale, abusive breeders that lack proper veterinary care, food or socialization. Often times, these animals have health issues resulting from poor breeding and can cost families thousands of dollars in veterinary care.”

The law does not affect purchases of dogs, cats or rabbits from breeders or adoption from shelters. It also does not prohibit New York residents from buying a pet at a retail store in another state and bringing it back to their home in New York, according to the governor’s office.

One section of the law will allow pet stores to charge shelters rent if a shelter uses their space to organize dog, cat or rabbit adoptions.

Other states that have some limitations on purchasing animals at retail pet stores include California, Illinois, Maryland, Maine and Washington.

See also: ‘Genetics ain’t everything’: You can clone your dog or cat, but should you?

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals called the law’s passage a “major victory.”

“We are hopeful that this enormous step by New York State may encourage other states to take similar action to stop the cruel commercial breeding industry from supplying pet stores within their borders,” a statement from the ASPCA read. “We stand ready to support those initiatives so that, together, we can end puppy mills on a national scale.”

Not every pro-pet group is in agreement, however.

 Mike Bober, president and CEO of the nonprofit Pet Advocacy Network, said the new law is “misdirected” and “will cause New York’s local pet stores that bring families together with pets to go out of business, lay off their employees, and have a negative ripple effect throughout their communities during turbulent economic times.”

Bober indicated that he would prefer a law that cracks down on unregulated breeders as opposed to pet stores.

“It is a loss for New Yorkers that lawmakers did not directly target unregulated breeders who mistreat animals,” he said.

Many pet stores in the U.S., including Petco
and PetSmart, already do not sell dogs or cats but instead host adoption events at their stores.

There are only about 80 pet stores in the state of New York that sell these animals, according to a New York Times report from July.

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