Governor Signs Bill: No Dogs, Cats, Rabbits Sold at New York Pet Stores


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The significance of New York State now officially the sixth state to ban sales of dogs and cats (and also rabbits) at pet stores is undeniable and cannot be understated. New York State matters a great deal because of the sheer size and population, ten percent of all pet stores selling dogs and cats in the U.S. are in that state and also New York City is headquarters for a major opponent of this legislation, the American Kennel Club (AKC).

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Queens) and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) and the notion of a ban was originally floated pre-pandemic. In June, bi-partisan overwhelming support from New York lawmakers (the bill passed the Senate 57-5 and the Assembly 133-16) and was just awaiting signature from Governor Kathy Hochul who was under intense lobbying pressure not to sign.

The goal of the New York law and about 440 like it in municipalities all around the U.S. and Canada is to stop the puppy mill pipeline. Indeed, no responsible breeder EVER sells to a pet store. The animals are from horrific puppy mills and large stealthy commercial facilities.

One argument was that banning sales would drive more people to unscrupulous operators online. True enough, something has to be done to deal with online sales from bad players but there’s no indication that those online sales surge when statewide bans go into effect. In fact, in California, following their state-wide ban of dog and cat sales at pet stores – by all accounts shelter adoptions went up.

The other states banning sales of dogs and cats at pet stores are Illinois, Maine, Maryland and Washington. Similar laws statewide bans are being considered in many states including Pennsylvania (home to many puppy mills), Florida, New Jersey and Texas.

These bills do nothing to deny responsible hobby breeders, though these very breeders are unsupported by the AKC.

A coalition of pet store owners — People United to Protect Pet Integrity, or PUPPI — said that the blanket ban would unfairly hurt responsible pet stores selling puppies raised with care, and would do little to shut down commercial breeding facilities, most of which are out-of-state. The industry argued that most commercial breeders raised pets humanely, but that animal rights groups were singling out bad actors,

This argument holds little validity. Even IF dogs and cats are tenderly cared for at pet stores, where they sourced most often raises animals inhumanely, and then transported through one or more brokers inhumanely and without transparently. Studies suggest dogs sold via pet stores are more likely to suffer behavior and/or medical problems, that is even if the consumer is getting what the dog is purported to be. For example, a pup sold as a Yorkiepoo may have Yorkie but no poo in his or her lineage.

The Humane Society of the United States reported public records showing that at least 25 New York pet stores bought puppies from Daniel Gingerich, one of the worst known puppy mills in history. In 2021, Gingerich accumulated over 120 animal welfare violations for filthy conditions and dogs who were dead, sick, injured, emaciated and heat distressed. This “shocking cruelty” led to the first federal indictment of a commercial breeder for Animal Welfare Act violations and to Gingerich settling with the Department of Justice, agreeing to relinquish all 500 dogs.

To be clear the state-wide bans aren’t only about horrific actors, such as this, as no responsible breeder ever sells to a pet store.