New Senate bill takes aim at puppy mills


Amid controversy caused by many pet stores, including allegations against Shake A Paw in Lynbrook, the New York State Senate approved legislation that would shutdown the puppy mill pipeline and end the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores across the state on May 11.

The bill has seen support from leading animal welfare groups, including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Humane Society of the United States, the New York State Animal Protection Federation and more. A companion piece of legislation was introduced in the Assembly and is still being considered by its Assembly Rules Committee.

“Having one of the country’s highest concentrations of pet stores that sell puppies, New York state needs to end the sale of cruelly-bred puppy mill dogs in pet shops by finally passing the New York Puppy Mill Pipeline Bill,” ASPCA President and CEO Matt Bershadker said, according to a news release. “Shutting down the puppy mill pipeline will help stop retail sellers and commercial breeders from engaging in — and profiting from — unconscionable brutality.”

According to the bill, out-of-state puppy mills ship their puppies to New York pet stores, where they are marketed as healthy puppies from responsible breeders. Puppies sold in pet stores typically come from commercial breeding operations known as “puppy mills” that are designed to prioritize profit over the well-being of the animals. Dogs in the facilities are often kept in wire crates without adequate shelter, veterinary care, food or socialization. As a result, many of them suffer severe health and behavioral issues — and families are often unprepared for the financial loss and heartbreak that come with buying a sick puppy.

A new report detailing where pet stores in New York really get their puppies shows that almost half of the puppies shipped to New York pet stores arrive by truck from Missouri — home to the highest concentration of puppy mills in the U.S.

The legislation comes amid claims from some customers of Shake A Paw stores in Lynbrook and Hicksville that the businesses knowingly sold sick dogs and purchased them from puppy mills. Last month, a Nassau County judge overturned a ban on Shake A Paw stores from selling new puppies that was levied by State Attorney General Letitia James.

In a lawsuit against the stores that led to the three-month ban, James described the source of Shake A Paw’s animals as puppy mills, although customers were told that the dogs were from legitimate breeders. Many of the puppies had been afflicted with serious health issues, including pneumonia, breathing problems, infections and congenital defects, James claimed. Several had parasites.

Shake A Paw Vice President Marc Jacobs said after the ban was lifted that his businesses have helped to satisfy more than 80,000 customers by uniting them with new dogs throughout their 28-year history, and that the state’s Department of Agriculture and Markets has consistently found its two stores to be in compliance during unannounced inspections.

“Shake A Paw only acquires puppies from licensed and lawful breeders,” Jacobs said in a statement, “and has never knowingly sold a sick puppy. As required by law and in accordance with the owner’s wishes, on the rare occasion when a sold puppy has taken ill, Shake A Paw has reimbursed veterinary bills up to the sales price, given a full refund, or exchanged the puppy for another.”