Bill in Senate looks to crack down on stores selling dogs, cats and rabbits

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A bill in the New York Senate is looking to ban the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits from pet stores.

The legislation being considered in Albany wants to put an end to the thousands of so-called puppy mills and prevent pet stores in New York from buying animals from them.

Under the measure, which was approved by the Senate's Domestic Animal Welfare Committee, the roughly 80 pet stores in the state that sell dogs, cats and rabbits would no longer be able to buy from out-of-state breeders. State lawmakers say these breeders often disregard federal regulations and oversight and end up selling sick animals or animals living in horrific conditions.

The proposed law encourages pet stores to create partnerships with shelters and rescue groups to promote dogs, cats and bunnies who are up for adoption. The stores would not profit from the sales.

Pet stores would only be allowed to sell items such as food, supplies and pet toys under new legislation.

The Humane Society of Westchester not only backs the bill, but also wants it to be expanded to include all small animals.

"It would save us so many times when we have to save an unhealthy pet sold by a pet store,” says Weston Ciano of the Westchster Humane Society.

MORE: Greenburgh holds public hearing on banning puppy mills 

Animal shelters and rescue groups around the state are already saying they'll help pet stores with adoption events to find homes for the thousands of  animals they care for each year.  

Pet store owners are among those fighting the bill, which was also proposed but not approved last year in Albany. Opponents of the bill say people should have the option of whether to buy or adopt their pets.

They say the bill won't put an end to unscrupulous puppy mills and that it will only put pet stores out of business. 

Some pet store owners say they're already heavily regulated, and they feel the bill punishes an entire industry for a few bad retailers.  "There’s criteria and things I must live by that, if I step out of line, I would not be in business and be subjected to potential criminal charges," says Doug Staley, pet store owner.

The proposal was voted out of committee in the state Senate Monday, meaning it could be voted on by the full Senate sometime before the current session ends in June.

The bill also has a sponsor in the state Assembly. Gov. Andrew Cuomo would also have to sign off on the bill.


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