By Alicia Venter
By the end of next year, New Yorkers will be unable to purchase dogs, cats and rabbits in retail pet stores.
Gov. Kathy Hochul signed Bill S1130 into law on Thursday, Dec. 15, in an attempt to bring an end to the sale of animals by commercial breeders, a business often accused of keeping the animals in inhumane conditions.
Introduced by Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris, the legislation states that a retail pet shop “shall not sell, lease, offer to lease, offer to sell, barter, auction or otherwise transfer ownership of any dog, cat or rabbit.”
The bill passed both the state Senate and Assembly last spring, and is an attempt to bring an end to inhumane breeding conditions.
“Today is a great day for our four-legged friends and a big step forward in our fight against abusive and inhumane puppy mills,” Gianaris said in a statement. “My thanks to Governor Hochul for standing up for the voiceless loving animals who are members of our families and deserve the respect we’ve shown them today.”
A retail pet shop is defined in the legislation as any for-profit location that offers to sell animals to be kept as household pets, pet food or supplies. There are approximately 80 pet stores registered in New York State, according to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.
The law does not prohibit a retail pet shop from collaborating with certain entities to showcase such animals for the purpose of adoption: societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals, humane societies and animal protective or rescue tax-exempt associations. Pet stores will be allowed to charge shelters rent to use their spaces for adoption.
New York joins California, Maryland, Illinois and other states who have also passed retail pet sale bans.
The New York Times reported in July that pet stores fiercely objected to the legislation, stating the bill would put them out of business and could potentially lead to an underground market of pet sales as it became more difficult for people to obtain a pet in the state.
People are still permitted to buy animals directly from breeders, but the legislation encourages people to adopt pets from shelters and rescue organizations.
According to The Humane Society of the United States, puppy mills often lead to an array of painful and life-shortening veterinary problems due to unsanitary conditions and the lack of proper oversight.
“Dogs, cats and rabbits across New York deserve loving homes and humane treatment,” Hochul said in a statement. “I’m proud to sign this legislation, which will make meaningful steps to cut down on harsh treatment and protect the welfare of animals across the state.”
The legislation will take effect in December 2024.