Fed, ASPCA and HSUS Call for Swift Passage of Puppy Mill Bill

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On the heels of two major investigations into puppy mills and the pet stores that sell them as well as the action taken today by the NYS Attorney General regarding pet sales and consumer protection, the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the New York State Animal Protection Federation (NYSAPF) call for quick action on A.4283 (Rosenthal)/S.1130 (Gianaris) to shut down the puppy mill pipeline into New York State once the legislature comes back into session.

This fall, the ASPCA assisted the US Department of Justice in removing over 500 dogs from multiple Iowa-based breeding facilities after the US District Court for the Southern District of Iowa issued a restraining order against Daniel Gingerich, the facilities’ owner. The order came after the ASPCA put considerable pressure of the US Department of Agriculture to enforce the Animal Welfare Act after it found over 190 violations at the Gingrich properties. The DOJ complaint detailed the horrific conditions including dog with untreated injuries and illnesses such as parvovirus and distemper, dogs with painful hair matting, dogs in cages that were too small, dogs eating moldy food and dead dogs on the property.

On December 8th, HSUS released its investigation of American Kennels, a pet store on Lexington Ave. in New York City that revealed sick and dying puppies stored in designated sick rooms and a basement. Despite being sick, some of the ailing dogs were sold to customers without disclosure of illness or that the puppies were sourced from puppy mills like the Gingerich mill and others like it. The investigator documented that at least one puppy died in the store despite the store’s website marketing that claims it has a tradition of “providing healthy and happy pets to clientele from around the world.”

Today, New York State Attorney General Leticia James stood in the parking lot of Shake-a-Paw, a pet store located in Hicksville on Long Island, to announce a consumer-related complaint. Shake-a-Paw, which also has a Lynbrook store, purchased animals from the Iowa-based Gingerich among other puppy mills. James filed a lawsuit against Shake A Paw for unlawfully selling numerous sick or injured puppies to unaware consumers at both of its locations. An investigation by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) found that both Shake A Paw falsely advertised sick pets as healthy, fabricated health certificates, failed to disclose the animals’ legitimate medical conditions, misrepresented puppies’ breeds, and refused to reimburse consumers for veterinarian bills when they lodged complaints with Shake A Paw. Attorney General James also filed a motion for a temporary restraining order against Shake A Paw in an effort to protect the puppies in danger at the two Long Island locations, as well as to freeze funds that are in bank accounts managed by Shake A Paw for restitution.

“In light of the horrific conditions in both puppy mills and pet stores, it is time for the New York State Assembly to act and pass the Shut Down the Puppy Mill Pipeline Act and stop this inhumane treatment of companion animals,” said Libby Post, Executive Director of the NYS Animal Protection Federation, which represents all of the state’s animal shelter. “This is no longer abstract for me and my family. We just adopted a rescued 6 year old Golden Retriever from an Amish Puppy Mill in Ohio. Sophie has been with us for three weeks—she was completely shut down and scared when she came to us. She had been bred every six months and knew no compassion or love. Her life is now one of comfort and care—but what about all the other dogs and puppies that languish at mills and pet stores. It is time for New York to lead and put puppies over profits.”

“New York State has one of the country’s highest number of puppy-selling pet stores, which sell puppies from out-of-state, commercial breeding facilities where dogs are bred at every opportunity in order to produce as many puppies as possible with no regard for their health and well-being,” said Bill Ketzer, senior director of state legislation for the ASPCA, Eastern Division. “Thousands of cruelly bred puppies are shipped through a pipeline of out-of-state breeders to New York pet stores every year, where they are marketed as healthy dogs from responsible breeders, which is far from the truth. It’s long past time to shut down the puppy mill pipeline to New York pet stores and we are grateful to Attorney General James for taking action against this cruel, broken system to protect puppies and consumers alike.”

“Years of shady and deceptive business practices have caught up with Shake a Paw, and Attorney General Letitia James has shown solid leadership by taking decisive action to protect consumers and support animal welfare,” said Brian Shapiro, New York state director for the Humane Society of the United States. “This news follows the release of a shocking undercover investigation last week by the Humane Society of the United States, revealing sick and dying puppies at the American Kennels pet store in Manhattan. The state legislature must step up quickly and pass A.4283/S.1130 early next year to end New York’s role in perpetuating puppy mill cruelty once and for all.”

The Stop the Puppy Mill Pipeline Act, A.4283 (Rosenthal)/S.1130 (Gianaris), would ban the sale of puppies, kittens and rabbits in New York’s pet stores. The bill gives these enterprises the ability to rebrand as humane businesses by hosting adoption events for local animal shelters and rescues as they transition to the more contemporary pet store model of selling food and other animal necessities. The American Pet Products Association has reported that consumers purchased over $1B in pet supplies, products and medicine in 2020. In the past, the Association has reported that only 1-2% of those purchases have been purchasing pets.