New York pet stores could be banned from selling dogs, cats and rabbits

State lawmakers are looking to put a kink in the "pet mill-to pet store pipeline."

New legislation proposed by Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-District 12) and Assemb. Linda Rosenthal (D-District 67) would ban pet stores from selling dogs, cats and rabbits. Instead, stores would be encouraged to foster partnerships with shelters and rescue groups to promote pets who are up for adoption.

Pet stores in New York City are already prohibited from selling rabbits under a law passed by the City Council. The new legislation, if passed, would expand the ban statewide.

“Our four-legged companions should be treated with dignity, not like commodities. Pet stores do not need puppy mills to supply them when there are so many loving animals in need of a good home," Gianaris said in a statement Monday.

Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the ASPCA, which supports the legislation, said there are about 2,000 puppies for sale in pet stores statewide at any given time. Many of them, he said, are from puppy mills.

“Having one of the country’s highest concentrations of pet stores, New York State needs to end the sale of puppy mill dogs,” Bershadker said in a statement. “With this bill, New York lawmakers are fighting puppy mill cruelty and rejecting the callous treatment of pets as commodities."

In addition to horrific conditions many animals face before they arrive at retail shops, Rosenthal said people are often duped into taking home a sick pet in need of veterinary care that could cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. She also accused the Trump administration of lax enforcement of regulations on pet breeders and stores.

"The cute puppies rolling around in pet store windows mask a sad reality – these animals are the products of the horrific abuse and neglect in puppy mills," Rosenthal said in a statement Monday. "Dogs, cats and rabbits are not store merchandise, and a ban on their sale in pet stores will reflect the level of care and treatment these living creatures deserve."

The American Kennel Club, however, expressed concerns that the legislation is too broad to be effective and would hurt licensed breeders who follow regulations.

"It would remove from the market the single most regulated, inspected and health/temperament-checked sources of pets in the retail market, while promoting pets from retail rescue sources that lack this regulation, oversight or any support from New York consumer protection laws," Sheila Goffe, AKC’s vice president of government relations, added.

The bills are being considered by committee members in the Senate and Assembly. It remains unclear when the committees intend to vote on the bills.

If the legislation passes, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs it into law, New York would be the third state to institute such a ban, after California and Maryland.