New York became the latest state to pass a law banning the sale of cats, dogs, and rabbits in pet stores, an effort to curb the use of commercial breeders denounced by critics as "puppy mills," The Associated Press reports.
Under the new law signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul (D), pet shops will work with animal shelters to find homes for rescued or abandoned animals. The law will also prohibit breeders from selling more than nine animals annually. The ban will not apply to at-home breeders who sell animals raised on their property. The ban is set to take effect in 2024.
"This is a very big deal. New York tends to be a big purchaser and profiteer of these mills, and we are trying to cut off the demand at a retail level," said state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D).
Gianaris accused the puppy mill industry of treating animals "like commodities," adding, "there is no pet store not affected."
Pet shop owners argue that the law unfairly discriminates against pet stores without targeting out-of-state breeders or improving the standard of care at puppy mills. They worry the ban will force dozens of New York pet stores to shut down, per AP.
New York is the latest state to pass a ban on pet stores selling commercially bred animals. In 2017 California became the first state to ban such sales, though that law does not regulate sales by private breeders. Maryland followed suit in 2020, banning the sale of cats and dogs in stores, leading storeowners and breeders to challenge the law in court. The following year, Illinois banned the sale of commercially raised puppies and kittens.