New York’s Puppy Mill Pipeline Bill is on Governor Kathy Hochul’s desk to be signed. It would ban the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores.
Petland in Cicero is one business at risk of shutting down if the bill becomes law as the majority of the store’s revenue comes from selling such animals.
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Local pet stores may be forced to close
Petland’s Vice President of Legislative and Public Affairs Elizabeth Kunzelman said 73% of sales from the Cicero store come from selling puppies. “You can’t take away 73% of a business’s revenue and expect them to just survive,” she said. “There are 80 [pet] stores approximately in New York, we have one, but this bill will potentially put hundreds of people out of a job in the middle of a recession with a law that does absolutely nothing to help animal welfare. It just doesn’t make sense.”
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Petland touts strict regulations for breeders
Cicero Store Manager Shalini Mahadeo has been working at Petland for nine years. Mahadeo said Petland puppies are often shipped to the store from out-of-state breeders due to a lack of USDA-licensed breeders in New York. “We’re completely transparent, you get all of the breeder information, all of the USDA inspection information, all of the vaccination, health exams, all of that,” said Kunzelman. “People hear that buzzword puppy mill, but they don’t even understand what the real issue is. That’s what my job is, to try to educate people, legislators as well to, you know, let’s regulate, let’s really do something that helps animal welfare.”
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Puppy mills vs. responsible breeders
Mike Bomber is the President and CEO of the Pet Advocacy Network. Bomber said his organization reached out to lawmakers to try and help them understand the consequences of the Puppy Mill Pipeline Bill. “Over the last 15 years, we’ve seen steady improvement in the science behind animal breeding. That’s why we work with responsible breeders and responsible retailers,” said Bomber. With a puppy mill ban, “you lose all consumer protections,” said Kunzelman, who noted that New York already has consumer protections in place. The Better Business Bureau reported that during the COVID-19 pandemic, shopping scam reports skyrocketed, with pet scams making up 35% of those. On the other hand, the ACPCA and The Humane Society strive to drive more people toward shelters and rescues. Elinor Molbegott works at The Humane Society of New York, where she handles legal counsel relating to animal issues. She believes the Puppy Mill Pipeline Bill will help address some of the concerns related to overbreeding. If Gov. Hochul signs the bill,, Molbegott recommends that pet stores work collaboratively with humane organizations to showcase animals. “That would be a way of accomplishing two things because it would stop help to stop the unnecessary breeding animals and inhumane treatment of animals and puppy mills could also promote adoptions of animals that need homes.”