Pet retailers are set to be barred from selling dogs, cats and rabbits in the state of New York come December 2024 under a new law, signed by Governor Kathy Hochul on Thursday, designed to stop the supply of animals from so-called puppy mills.
Hochul, a Democrat, said banning pet stores from selling pets will help protect animal welfare and clamp down on abusive, wholesale breeders.
New York will join a small group of other states, including California, Illinois and Maryland, that have instituted similar bans on such sales. The law leaves the door open for pet stores to work with animal shelters to encourage adoptions, including rental space.
“Dogs, cats and rabbits across New York deserve loving homes and humane treatment,” Hochul said in a statement.
Animal welfare groups celebrated the bill’s signing, while some pet businesses voiced concerns that it would damage legitimate operators in the industry.
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Chief Executive Officer Matt Bershadker said it was a “historic win” for both animals and consumers.
“By ending the sale of cruelly bred puppy mill dogs in state pet shops, New York is shutting down the pipeline that enables retail sellers and commercial breeders to profit from unconscionable brutality,” he said in a statement.
Selmer’s Pet Land in Suffolk County on New York’s Long Island warned in a Facebook post that the legislation would allow unethical breeders to flourish in the black market and make it more difficult to obtain a pet.
“By ending licensed and regulated local pet stores, you will remove the people who vet breeders, insure the health of newly homed pets with established veterinarians, and guarantee the success of a new pet family,” Jessica Selmer, president of People United to Protect Pet Integrity, was quoted by the New York Times as saying.
The number of pet stores in the state, which has been on the decline, stands around 80, the report said. The law would allow people to buy animals directly from breeders, according to the outlet.
The bill received bipartisan support in a State Legislature that’s dominated by Democrats.