Thank you for the article on Assembly Bill A6298 [“Assemblyman Thiele Co-Sponsors Bill That Would Ban The Sale Of Puppies, Kittens And Rabbits In New York Pet Stores,” 27east.com, March 3], which offers New Yorkers an exciting opportunity to end the inhumane cycle of breeding dogs in large-scale commercial breeding facilities (often referred to as puppy mills).
How will A6298 achieve this? Pet shops must source puppies from breeding facilities that are licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. While to the average customer this may sound like an assurance of quality, it is by no means a guarantee that animals are treated in a manner that consumers would consider humane.
The USDA is charged with enforcing the federal Animal Welfare Act, which mandates the bare minimum for survival — and nothing more. The AWA doesn’t mandate that dogs be let out of their cages — ever.
Furthermore, the USDA, with fewer than 100 inspectors, is understaffed and underfunded. So, even the minimum standards set forth by the AWA don’t necessarily get enforced.
So, when you visit a pet shop and fall in love with a puppy, how are you contributing to the cycle of cruelty? No doubt that puppy is adorable; you may even feel like you are saving it. But what about that puppy’s parents, back at the mill? Those are the animals this bill is designed to protect.
With approximately 77 pet shops selling puppies, New York State is currently the country’s largest importer from USDA-licensed commercial breeders. Would A6298 require the local brick-and-mortar pet shop to change its business model? Absolutely. But the pet dealers’ argument — that they will be forced to close if this bill passes — is baseless. In fact, live animal sales accounted for just 4.7 percent of the $19.5 billion in gross revenue in the U.S. pet industry in 2018.
While changing the business model may be an inconvenience, it has proven to work. Besides, being inconvenient should not be an impediment — because at the end of the day, it is the ethical, humane and right thing to do.
Where, then, should one go when looking to add a pet to their family? There are a number of worthy rescue groups (including the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons, Gimme Shelter Animal Rescue, Southampton Animal Shelter and Kent Animal Shelter) right here in our own community that successfully find homes for thousands of dogs and cats every year. If you prefer a specific breed, there are plenty of smaller, non-USDA licensed breeders you can buy from; however, it is essential that you visit the breeder to see the conditions in which the puppies are raised.
Last but not least, a shout-out to Assemblyman Fred Thiele for having the strength of character, vision and compassion to co-sponsor A6298. Thank you for doing the right thing, Fred!
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