New York Senate Passes Bill Banning Sale of Cats, Dogs, and Rabbits in Pet Stores

Who let the dogs out? The New York State Senate, that's who.
Who let the dogs out? The New York State Senate, that's who. / joshblake/iStock via Getty Images

On Tuesday, July 21, the New York State Senate voted in favor of a bill that prohibits the sale of cats, dogs, and rabbits in all New York pet stores.

Not only would the ban encourage people to adopt rescue animals, but it would also discourage the existence of the puppy, kitten, and rabbit mills that supply many pet stores with animals. These high-volume breeding facilities have a reputation for poor living conditions and even animal abuse, and organizations like the Humane Society have long fought against them.

“Pet stores that sell puppies may look good from the window, but rely on a recklessly inhumane system to make money, importing potentially sick animals from out-of-state puppy mills and deceptively passing them off to consumers as healthy pets from responsible breeders,” Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), said in the Senate's press release.

The bill wouldn’t ban the purchase of pets altogether; prospective owners could still buy them from individual breeders, where they’d be able to see the living conditions and make an informed decision about whether the breeder deserves their business. And it doesn’t necessarily spell the end for the 80 or so retail stores currently licensed to sell animals in New York; according to the Times Union, much of their earnings come from merchandise rather than the animals themselves. Opponents argue that it would severely impact store revenue and also motivate more people to purchase pets online, which isn’t regulated.

Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris, who introduced the bill back in February, is one of the Senate’s most prominent advocates for animal welfare. He was also behind last year’s law against cat declawing—the first statewide ban in the country. (Other states followed New York's lead.)

“With so many good animals in need of rescue, there is no need for pet stores to sell animals that predominantly come from abusive puppy and kitten mills,” Gianaris said in yesterday's press release. “Our four-legged companions should be treated with respect, not like commodities.”

Before this new bill becomes a law, the State Assembly and Governor Andrew Cuomo both have to approve it, and it’s not yet clear when that might be.

In the meantime, here are 25 compelling reasons to adopt a rescue dog.

[h/t Times Union]