Letter: Now Is The Time To Fight Against Puppy Mills

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Based on our experiences from running a grassroots group for close to five years now on Long Island, we have come to learn that there are several reasons why pet store purchases end up in shelters and rescues.

1. The retail environment lulls you into thinking you are simply making a purchase without really contemplating the possible difficulties acquiring a puppy, cat or rabbit can entail, such as time, money and training. Families walk by a window and see a cute face looking and slap down a credit card without much, if any, forethought.

2. Many of the animals purchased through pet stores can potentially have costly illnesses which their budgets or busy lives simply do not permit them the time or money to deal with.

3. Pet stores that sell puppies tend to have a very sales-intensive environment where sales people are pressured to make sales. They are trained and groomed by managers or owners on what to say and perhaps more importantly “what not to say.” There are many instances in which the customer can’t even make an informed decision due to the pressures and misinformation applied by sales people. Recently, as grassroots groups such as our own have been making headway revealing where pet stores obtain their puppies, the pet store industry has also been transforming their image to mitigate the effect the truth is having on the public. For example, breeder books that show deceptively nice-looking puppy mills but do not include USDA numbers.

As you know, many people would never willingly support animal abuse but often end up doing just that due to the reasons above as well as customers feeling that if they don’t purchase the puppy strategically placed into their arms, they are cruelly leaving it behind to be placed back in a cage.

Permitting the puppy mill industry to continue selling in New York through sanitized-looking pet stores is unfair to the customers, unfair to the many, many animals imprisoned for life in mills and unfair to the taxpayers who end up picking up the burden of paying for animals dumped in shelters.

For the last several years we have been educating the public and bringing awareness about the puppy mill industry. During this time, we’ve lost count of the number of consumers that have contacted us about sick and/or unwanted animals (puppies, kittens and rabbits) they were sold, some of which passed away shortly after sale. We took the time to help every last consumer and shared links to file formal complaints with: Consumers Affairs, NYS Department of Agriculture, NYS Attorney General and even the Better Business Bureau. We also encouraged necessary cases to file small claims lawsuits. All but one that filed won their cases and have yet to receive restitution from the pet stores they sued.

The one family that lost their case had contacted Puppy Mill Free Long Island for help. They bought two sick puppies in one week from a pet store named Shake A Paw in Lynbrook. They took the sick puppy to the pet store’s vet. Pet stores regularly tell consumers that if they want any illnesses covered under the health certificates they give out, that consumers must use the pet store’s veterinarians.

We advised them that they had the right to use any veterinarian and referred them to another reputable vet. The puppy had several illnesses, such as roundworm, hookworm and kennel cough, and received an “Unfit For Sale” letter by the vet.

Too often, consumers surrender their pets after learning they’re sick. The NYS Pet Lemon Law states that in order to receive complete refund, you must return the dog. In court, they couldn’t produce the dog, therefore they lost their case.

No one should have to endure this, nor should any animal have to suffer so unfairly just for the financial benefit of pet store owners. We have shared many times with New York pet stores the Humane Society of the United States’ “Letter of Invitation” to implement a more humane business model, never once hearing back from a single store. Instead, they continue to lie and deceive the public all while hiring their lobbyists to help protect their deceptive business practices. Consumer complaints continue to roll in. Over a year ago we managed to get NYS Attorney General’s office to finally open formal investigations on both American Dog Club and Shake A Paw. We have been patiently waiting for an update while new consumers continue to come forward about the sick pets they were sold.

With more than 300 municipalities having passed puppy mill bans and several states passing statewide bans, there’s no better time than the present for New York to join the masses. We need the government to do a better job at protecting both consumers and animals. If many of these lawmakers took the time to visit any of these puppy mills, we believe without a doubt that there would be little hesitation to passing statewide bans across the globe.

Puppy Mill Free Long Island, NY wholeheartedly supports Bill S4234, which prohibits the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits by retail pet shops; and authorizes space for adoption. It’s imperative this humane bill be brought up for a vote this session. We look forward to the day when puppy mills are eradicated once and for all.

—Puppy Mill Free Long Island, NY


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