Cuomo should sign bill to regulate pet breeders

The SPCA Serving Erie County cares for approximately 10,000 domestic animals each year through programs that include adoptions, animal rescues, animal emergency transports, stray lost and found services, and animal cruelty investigations and seizures. We have seen first-hand how state and federal laws regulating pet dealers have failed to protect dogs trapped in New York’s many commercial breeding facilities where they typically spend their lives in tiny, cramped, wire-floored cages that are stacked on top of each other, often outdoors, with no protection from the elements.

At the federal level, U.S. Department of Agriculture oversight of wholesale breeders cannot adequately protect dogs as it is consistently underfunded and provides only very minimal standards. Shipping and health certificates plainly show that New York pet stores regularly purchase dogs from breeders with a history of egregious violations of the Federal Animal Welfare Act.

Shockingly, state laws regulating the pet stores that support these wholesale breeders are not only anemic, but they actually tie the hands of our towns and cities, prohibiting them from regulating this industry. This is the case even though local governments and nonprofit animal shelters must absorb the costs of these unscrupulous breeders when cruelty seizures, and subsequent sheltering costs, and legal proceedings become necessary.

Additionally, state regulators have licensed an average of only about 115 breeders annually since regulation of retail breeders began in 2002, and that does not take into account the number of unlicensed breeders who currently sell animals to the public illegally and without paying income taxes on sales.

New York State passed A.740/S.3753, which aims to fix this by enabling local governments to exercise their home-rule powers to regulate breeders and pet stores. It’s time to stop putting profit over animal protection. I urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign this legislation to reduce animal suffering and protect consumers by authorizing municipalities to enact more stringent pet dealer laws if they choose.

Barbara Carr

Executive Director

SPCA Serving Erie County