New York Senate committee votes to end puppy mill sales in pet stores; Bill resulted partly from an HSUS investigation
A New York Senate committee voted unanimously today to advance a bill that would end the sales of puppies, kittens and rabbits in pet stores across the state. The bill is a direct result of national and local pressure, including the widespread outrage generated by an investigation we conducted in 2017 to expose the terrible suffering of puppies at the Chelsea Kennel Club, a boutique store located in an affluent area of Manhattan.
If the bill becomes law, New York would join three other states that have already passed legislation to stop or limit the sales of puppy mill animals in pet stores, including California, Maryland and Maine. Several other states are now considering similar measures.
Such long-term change is exactly the outcome we’re seeking when we conduct our undercover investigations, which require months of research by our puppy mills campaign and considerable sacrifice by our brave undercover investigators who risk their own safety, health and emotional resilience to expose animal suffering.
During the Chelsea Kennel Club investigation, over two months, our investigator documented many sick puppies, shocking neglect and rough treatment of the animals there. Among the sick animals was a French bulldog puppy who had shed a quarter of her body weight; two Pomeranians who could hardly see a thing after conjunctivitis caused their eyes to be swollen shut; an English bulldog who had pneumonia so severe that the animal was struggling to breathe; and a shiba inu with bronchitis who coughed incessantly for weeks.
Animals with severe infections and illnesses often suffered without adequate veterinary care for weeks, or were given home remedies and sold to consumers while still sick. Workers in the store manhandled the puppies, tossing them roughly in the cages or smacking at them with a towel.
The entire experience was so horrifying, our investigator told the New York Times in an interview published last week, “there were some nights where I just sat there and I just cried.”
The HSUS also purchased two puppies as part of that investigation, and we found both were suffering from health problems. The paperwork for one of the puppies linked her to a puppy mill in Kansas that has appeared in some of our Horrible Hundred reports.
The findings of our investigation quickly led to the store’s closure. The investigation also formed the backbone of two lawsuits against the store, one by the city’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, and one by the state attorney general. The store’s former owners lost the city lawsuit last month and could now face millions of dollars in fines. The hearing to determine damages is scheduled for April.
The investigation of the Chelsea Kennel Club built upon an earlier investigation we released in 2011. That investigation found more than 100 pet stores in the New York City area sourcing animals from puppy mills. At least one of the puppy mills was operated by a convicted animal abuser. Since that investigation, the number of puppy-selling stores in New York State has dropped to about 77.
We have, however, continued to receive a steady stream of complaints about sick puppies sold in city stores, and New York is one of the top 10 states from which we receive the most pet store puppy complaints. To truly end the problem of puppy mills, New York needs a statewide law that will cut off the puppy-mill-to-pet-store pipeline once and for all.
The bill that passed the Senate committee today would also help New York State address a public health threat that implicates some of the state’s pet stores: the spread of campylobacter, a drug-resistant bacterium or superbug variety recently found in New York residents who had contact with pet store puppies, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
We applaud state Sen. Michael Gianaris for introducing this important bill and for seeing it through the Senate Domestic Animal Welfare Committee. Our thanks also to long-time animal protection champion, Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, for taking the lead with an Assembly version of this bill. If you live in New York State, please call your state lawmakers and urge them to support the New York Puppy Mill Pipeline Act, S.4234/A.6298. Let’s make sure that those who profit off the suffering of animals do not continue to do so.