By Thomas Delaney
For The Daily Gazette
New York has some of the strictest laws in the country when it comes to licensing, regulating, and inspecting pet dealers.
The state’s Agriculture and Markets laws protect companion animals in these settings by numerous statutes that establish mandatory health, care and vaccination standards for dogs, cats and rabbits sold by pet dealers.
Further, when you buy a pet from a pet store or a breeder in New York, it comes with a guarantee.
Our state has a “pet lemon law” that provides rights to pet buyers.
If a consumer purchases an unhealthy or physically defective pet, the pet dealer must give them the choice to return the pet for a full refund, exchange it for another animal, or pay the costs for veterinarian care necessary to nurse the pet back to health or correct the defect.
Despite these strong consumer protection laws, the option to purchase a family pet from these state-regulated pet shops will be eliminated by a bill that passed both houses of the legislature and will be before the governor shortly.
The proposed law will compel those seeking a companion animal to adopt almost exclusively shelter or rescue pets.
These “adoptions” are not cheap. They are also non-refundable and not covered by the pet lemon law. Yet, the advocates claim this bill will shut down the puppy mill “pipeline.”
The bill will do no such thing.
What it will do is severely limit consumer choice regarding the type and quality of dogs available to New York consumers.
It would replace a source of dogs that come with a warranty and a reasonable return policy with ones that are exempt from animal care regulations, the state Pet Lemon Law and other consumer protections.
One remaining source is the small quality in-state regulated breeders, which are represented by the Associated Dog Clubs of New York State.
This, of course, would be a wonderful choice. But not all consumers want or can afford a purebred dog.
Nor are many families willing to be put on a waiting list for months, over a year or longer for a new litter of puppies to be available.
So, that leaves the unregulated internet or out-of-state pet shops or breeders that will likely not have the stringent licensing, regulation and inspection laws and regulations or the consumer protections that are available to New Yorkers.
And where do these online and out-of-state sellers get their animals? Who really knows? But one can easily guess.
Consequently, this bill encourages the very puppy mills that everyone opposes and promotes our state as a vibrant market for the importation and sale of dogs from unknown and unregulated sources and breeders.
There are alternatives, like requiring pet shop owners to identify their sources and verify care standards and vaccination status.
So, why would the governor sign such a bill to limit where New Yorkers can buy a quality pet, and essentially put most if not all state licensed pet shops — many mom-and-pop-owned — out of business and employees out of a job, while actually helping bad commercial breeders in other states to flourish?
Consumers and those of us that care for the well-being of animals hope she will not.
Thomas Delaney is vice president of the Associated Dog Clubs of New York State (ADCNYS).