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ALBANY – Turns out there’s even a puppy mill lobby.

Legislation allowing localities to enact stronger rules regulating puppy mills is stalled in the State Senate as the 2013 session crawls to an end.

The measure, fought by some pet dealer companies, would let local governments enact their own, stricter laws aimed at curbing what the bill’s backers say are abuses in puppy mills. Animal welfare groups say many puppy mills offer substandard care for dogs and churn out poorly bred animals that end up having health problems that lead owners to eventually turn their dogs over to animal shelters.

While the measure, sponsored by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, D-Manhattan, has already passed the Assembly, it has become stuck in the Senate, where the bill is sponsored by Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-Buffalo.

“A few senators with puppy mills in their areas have a problem with it,” Grisanti said Thursday as an explanation for the bill being stuck in the Senate Rules Committee. “It’s one of my huge priorities.”

The bill would lift restrictions that now keep local governments from enacting regulations stronger than state laws that regulate pet dealers. The bill would let localities address such puppy mill issues as the source of animals being offered for sale by pet dealers, whether spaying or neutering should be required before a sale and the health conditions of the facilities housing the dogs.

The measure is backed by associations representing counties and towns, as well as animal welfare groups. The SPCA Serving Erie County raised concerns about conditions at some dog-breeding operations and the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, which regulates pet dealers, has had its funding cut in recent years and does not have the resources to adequately monitor all the state’s puppy mills.

One of the senators opposing the measure is Sen. Catharine Young, an Olean Republican. She said pet dealers already are regulated by the federal and state governments and said a “confusing mess” would be created by different localities having different rules.

“If there are issues with [the state] not doing enough enforcement, the Legislature should look at that and put on more inspectors and that’s the real solution,” she said.

email: tprecious@buffnews.com