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New York stores banned from selling cats, dogs, rabbits

A new law in New York targets pet stores that sell dogs, cats and rabbits.
A new law in New York targets pet stores that sell dogs, cats and rabbits.

New York has passed a law that puts limits on what pet stores can sell.

The state has officially banned the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits at retail pet stores in a move designed to end what it described as “the puppy mill-to-pet store pipeline and stop abusive breeders.” 

The new bill, which was signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul, will take effect in 2024. Pet stores will be allowed to continue to host adoption services in conjunction with animal shelters or rescue organizations to help connect consumers with animals in need of a home, with the bill allowing the stores to charge shelters rent to use their space for adoptions.

The law does not affect purchases of dogs, cats or rabbits from breeders (or adoption from shelters.) But it bans breeders from selling more than nine animals a year.

“Dogs, cats and rabbits across New York deserve loving homes and humane treatment,”  New York Governor Kathy Hochul said in a statement. “I’m proud to sign this legislation, which will make meaningful steps to cut down on harsh treatment and protect the welfare of animals across the state.”

California enacted a similar law in 2019, when it became the first state to ban such sales.  Four additional states — Washington, Maine, Maryland and Illinois — followed suit.

The governor’s office said that the legislation aims to prevent the buying and selling of animals from large-scale, abusive breeders that lack proper veterinary care, food or socialization. Often times, these animals have health issues resulting from poor breeding and can cost families thousands of dollars in veterinary care.

report released this year by the ASPCA found that one out of four puppies shipped to New York state pet stores came from dog brokers who buy puppies from licensed and unregulated breeders and resell the animals to stores.

"We are hopeful that this enormous step by New York State may encourage other states to take similar action to stop the cruel commercial breeding industry from supplying pet stores within their borders," Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the ASPCA, said in a statement.

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