Animal advocates push back
Michael Gianaris has two cats—rescue cats, he quickly points out. More importantly, he is a Democrat from Queens who is the deputy majority leader of the state Senate and the sponsor of the pet store bill along with Congresswoman Linda Rosenthal, a Democrat from Manhattan.
Gianaris said consumers are being misled about the sources of dogs and cats in pet stores. “It’s just not true that they get their animals from responsible breeders,” he said of most New York pet stores. Overwhelmingly, he said, pet store suppliers of dogs and cats “are bad actors.”
The senator said the state and regulators don’t have the resources “or the means” to properly monitor breeding operations and pet stores to ensure animals are raised in an ethical and humane manner. Additionally, the state Department of Agriculture has no jurisdiction over the large livestock companies, mostly located in the Midwest, which it says are causing the problem.
Animal rights advocates say there are federal laws to regulate ranchers, but the industry falls well below the hierarchy of interests of federal agriculture inspectors.
The pet industry agrees that the US Department of Agriculture rules should be strengthened to better cater to breeders. They note, however, that breeders and pet stores are the only federally and state-licensed components and that, unlike rescue organizations, consumers can obtain information about the origins of a dog they purchase and there are certain safeguards if a dog falls ill after he is bought. Above all, they say, an unlicensed and illicit breeding industry will thrive if the bill in New York passes.