Pet shop

“Puppy mill” bill faces criticism from pet shop owners in public hearing

A proposal that one stakeholder said would “cut the pipeline to puppy mills” has drawn criticism from pet store owners, one of whom said it would shut down small businesses and “won’t affect plant availability. puppies to function as they currently do ”.

The City Bill, which would ban the sale of commercially farmed dogs, cats and rabbits by pet stores, was the subject of a public hearing in Riverhead City Council on Wednesday.

City attorney Bob Kozakiewicz said there were no recent events or incidents leading up to the proposal.

“This is something that we have been studying for some time in the code review,” he said. “We are aware that there has been a sort of movement in which other jurisdictions have passed similar legislation aimed at trying to put limits on the puppy mill scenario.”

“This is truly an attempt on our part and to lead by example to shut down puppy mill operations,” said Councilor Ken Rothwell, who proposed the change in a recent working session.

The proposal requires a “source certificate” indicating where the animal came from and describes a source certificate as “any document from a source, city or county animal shelter or community. animal control agency, humanitarian society or non-profit rescue organization reporting the source of the dog or cat on the premises of the pet store or other commercial establishment.

Carol Sclafani, a licensed veterinary technician who teaches veterinary science, supported the proposal.

“This legislation is not trying to bankrupt anyone,” she said. “I think the intention of the city is to promote animal welfare and encourage best practices in the breeding of dogs, cats and rabbits for retail sale.

Ms Sclafani said the Humane Society defines a puppy mill as “a high volume inhumane dog breeding facility that produces puppies for profit, ignoring the needs of puppies and their mothers.”

David Schwartz, a representative of People United to Protect Pet Integrity, a coalition of pet store owners, veterinarians and other members of the pet industry, said his group, which represents 16 store owners, opposes the proposal.

“We wish to strongly express our opposition to the proposed amendment”, which he described as “a total ban on the retail sale of pets”.

He said he would “ban the only completely transparent and regulated way to buy dogs available to families.”

Mr Schwartz said the proposal “will only serve to shut down small businesses and will not affect the ability of” puppy mills “or bad breeders to operate as they currently do.”

Keith Lewin, owner of Puppy Experience on Main Road in Aquebogue, said his business was frequently inspected by the US Department of Agriculture, the Department of Agriculture and State Markets, Suffolk County Consumer Affairs and by the Association Society for the Prevention of Cruelty. To animals.

“We are not against the regulations,” he said. “We want to be regulated.

“We never bought a dog from Pennsylvania or Ohio or any of those Amish breeders,” he said. “And there are horror stories there. But not who we deal with, as we are regulated by the United States government. If I can’t trust them, how can we trust you? ”

He said there was a paper trail for every dog ​​they received.

Emilio Ortiz of New York, a member of PUPPI, said complaints are true from some breeders in some pet stores. “But doesn’t reflect the industry as a whole. We can’t just take these bad examples and smear everyone by saying that every breeder is like that.

“I want to thank City Council for addressing this issue,” said Pam Green, manager of Kent Animal Shelter in Calverton. “And we don’t get our animals from puppy mills. The only time we can get animals from puppy mills is the ones that are missing a leg, missing an eye or are in horrible condition and emaciated and come from the puppy mills when they throw them away.

She said Ms Sclafani “is perfect in everything she has said”.

City Council closed the public hearing with the exception of written comments, which will be accepted until September 20 at the clerk’s office, which closes at 4:30 p.m.