Animal advocates across Suffolk County rejoiced this week as legislation aimed at stopping the sale of puppy mill dogs was passed unanimously on Tuesday.
The Suffolk County Legislature passed the measure by a vote of 18 to 0 at its general meeting. If it is signed into law as expected by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Suffolk will become the first municipality in the state to regulate pet dealers since a new state law took effect granting municipalities the authority to do so.
“I am thrilled that Suffolk County has passed this law that makes it illegal to sell dogs originating from puppy mills,” said Legislator Jay Schneiderman, who co-sponsored the legislation. “We are doing our part to put an end to this despicable industry that treats animals like worthless, disposable items.”
“It will now be illegal for pet dealers to acquire puppies from breeders that do not meet basic standards for the humane treatment of animals,” Schneiderman said.
The legislation prohibits a pet store or dealer from selling animals younger than eight weeks old and bans the sale of animals originating from a breeder who has been issued violations by USDA inspectors.
Pet dealers or stores will have to make available to customers copies of recent inspection reports and the states of origin of breeders or brokers; they will also be required to retain invoices from brokers or breeders.
The law requires all animals to have daily access to clean, fresh water and clean, fresh food no less than twice per day. It also sets out rules for the enclosures used to house animals for sale.
Violators face fines of up to $500 per violation.
“We are grateful to Legislators Schneiderman and [William] Spencer for their diligent efforts to ban the sale of puppy mill dogs in Suffolk County pet shops,” said Pam Green, director of the Kent Animal Shelter.
“The one message that the many advocates of this bill would like to send to the consumer is that the pet shops are still buying from puppy mills, don’t be fooled, they are just buying from the best of the worst. What you are getting in every pet shop is still a puppy mill dog with a strong potential of congenital defects and other medical issues,” Green said.
Representatives of Long Island Orchestrating For Nature applauded the “historic vote.” The measure will “ban the worst puppy mills available to Suffolk County dealers.”
Schneiderman thanked LION president and Humane Society district leader John Di Leonardo, vice president Julie Cappiello and the Humane Society of the United States’ New York State Director Brian Shapiro by name.
“This is really an important moment in time. We would not be here without your advocacy,” he said.
“This will be the strongest law in New York State to regulate puppy mills and Suffolk County has taken a leadership role,” Shapiro said. “Many other counties and many other organizations across the state will follow suit.”
“Puppy mill mothers are bred in deplorable conditions,” Di Leonardo at the final committee hearing on the bill. “Commercial breeding facilities often have mothers shoved in cages no larger than six inches their body size, often raised off the ground and caked in excrement. The most unlucky are at the bottom of the stack, with food and excrement of other animals falling through the wired bottoms. All of this is legal, but with this new law, they may have a tougher time getting into Suffolk.”
LION is expected to work with advocates and legislators in Nassau County to mimic these regulations, he said.
Staff at The Puppy Experience, a puppy store located on Main Road in Aquebogue, declined comment when reached by telephone Wednesday.
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