When I was a young boy, the pet store in my hometown’s mall was one of my favorite places to go. It wasn’t long before my parents broke down, and we purchased a cocker spaniel puppy we named Sam.
Forty years later, I cannot bring myself to go into a pet store selling cats and dogs.
As executive director and CEO of the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons — ARF — I have seen firsthand the abuse and neglect inflicted upon dogs supplied to pet stores, including stores here in New York. I’ve seen recordings of undercover investigations of puppy mills and pet stores, and I know that buyers in pet stores are often told lies out of ignorance and to hide the truth: that animals sold in pet stores are supplied by means our community would never condone.
For these reasons, I was eager to speak to your paper regarding Assemblyman Fred Thiele’s support of legislation to end the sale of cats, dogs and rabbits in for-profit pet stores [“Assemblyman Thiele Co-Sponsors Bill That Would Ban The Sale Of Puppies, Kittens and Rabbits In New York Pet Stores,” 27east.com, March 3]. I understand why your reporter would also present the perspective of a pet store in our community impacted by this legislation; however, the article left several misleading and untrue accusations against rescue organizations like ARF unchallenged.
ARF is the local shelter for stray and abandoned animals in East Hampton, about which, 50 years ago, articles appeared in The New York Times, with titles like, “Why Do People in the Hamptons Abandon Their Pets at the End of Summer?” Our region has come a long way since then — now we are able to help shelters in communities where the number of animals surrendered far exceeds capacity to care for and adopt them.
One of my own ARF dogs came from a Texas shelter that until recently euthanized over 20,000 animals annually for lack of space and resources. The only thing “wrong” with these animals is where they were born. This is ARF’s rescue work.
ARF employs over 40 people. We have two full-time veterinarians on our staff, and the average cost of medical care alone is $1,000 an animal. Our adoption fee for a puppy is $300.
There is no profit in our work. We do it, with the support of this community, because animal abuse and over-population is a problem created by people, and we have chosen to take responsibility for the kind of world we want to live in.
Putting an end to the sale of cats, dogs and rabbits in retail pet stores is the next step in the work begun when ARF was founded in 1974.
Executive Director and CEO
The Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons
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