BROCKPORT, N.Y. (WROC) — As of now, Puppy Mills in New York State are legal, but advocates argue the baseline requirements for those breeders are inhumane. Now, rescue organizations across New York are fighting for the passage of a bill that would put a wrench in that process.
If passed, ‘NY’s Puppy Mill Bill’ (S1130 / A4283) would prevent pet stores from selling dogs who came from puppy mills. According to rescue organizations, almost all dogs in pet stores come from puppy mills, meaning those stores are the breeder’s biggest clients.
Lisa Jackson co-founded Puppy Mill Rescue Team, a nonprofit organization out of Brockport that rescues dogs from puppy mills and finds them new homes.
The organization has puppy mill dogs shipped to them from Ohio to Brockport where they then connect them to foster homes and forever homes in the Rochester area. Jackson hosts events to raise money and awareness about puppy mills, a topic she says not enough people know about.
“Puppy mills, first of all, are not illegal. They are basically large-scale breeding facilities,” Jackson said, “The oversight and the laws to protect how those mills are run are very, very poor.”
In New York State, a dog’s crate has to be six inches larger than the dog on all sides – a crate that Jackson said puppy mill dogs will live in their entire life if they are not rescued.
“They do not need to have the plastic tray in the bottom of the crate. Dogs still live in puppy mills with wire floors and crates. They only are supposed to be wired and that’s simply because the Miller doesn’t have to go in the cage to clean the cage. The droppings go right to the ground or to the cages below that cage,” Jackson said.
Another part of the state’s rules is a submitted exercise plan, but Jackson said there is no oversight of that plan, meaning dogs don’t leave their crates very often.
“There is no restrictions on how many times a dog can be bred if they can produce puppies for 10 years there’ll be bread for 10 years,” Jackson said.
Jackson said there are responsible breeders and suggests if you’re looking to buy a puppy from a breeder versus rescuing a dog, visit the property where the dog is coming from.
“See the parents of that dog, see where these dogs are housed, the condition of the other dogs on the property,” Jackson said.
Many puppy mills are USDA inspected but Jackson said the minimum requirements for those dogs is so low, that it is inhumane.
For the past several years, Jackson has worked with rescue organizations across the state, advocating for the passage of bills S1130 and A4283. It would put an end to puppy mills being able to sell dogs to their biggest clients: pet stores.
“It does not ban puppy mills. That’s a long way off in the future. Breeders this bill does not affect breeders selling directly to the public. It keeps the pipeline of dogs being shipped from puppy mills into pet stores and protects a lot of people. It does make a small dent in the puppy mill industry. However, it is a small dent, it’s estimated that the pet store industry in New York State is a $78 million industry and puppies being sold in those stores only equates to about 3%. So this bill would protect puppy mill dogs, but it also protects the consumer in a very large way,” Jackson said.
Jackson said these dogs being so poorly cared for in the end can lead to an even bigger price tag and commitment.
“Dogs are not sourced from the local community as one might think. There is a trail of evidence to say they are shipped in from puppy mills in the Midwest, which is huge. Sometimes they get these dogs for as little as $50 and they turn around and sell them for thousands. What happens is, those dogs often arrive sick. But the sickness can be hidden and it can erupt a week or so later. And by then the consumer has already laid down thousands of dollars, have fallen in love with his dog that now might need also thousands of dollars of vet care even if it should survive,” Jackson said.
The bill has passed the senate floor and the assembly codes committee, but still needs to pass the assembly rules committee, the full assembly floor, and then be signed by the governor.
“There’s not many legislative days left. So it’s really important that people reach out, we can’t always assume that other people are going to make the call our democratic process means that our legislators need to hear from us,” Jackson.
The bill still needs two more sponsors in the Rules Committee to push it to the full assembly floor. Representatives in the Western New York area who have not sponsored the bill include Stephen Hawley from Brockport and Joseph Giglio from Buffalo, both of who voted ‘nay’ when the bill made it this far in past years.
“There are no immediate pet stores selling puppies in our local area here. We have local politicians not co-sponsoring this bill, claiming it is because it’s going to hurt business. But it’s not going to hit their business here. It’s going to hit business downstate where there are many, many pet stores operating. New York State is said to have one of the largest numbers of pet stores selling puppies in the United States,” Jackson said.
News 8 did reach out to both Assemblymen for comment on this bill. We have yet to hear from Assemblyman Hawley. Assemblyman Giglio chose not to comment.
Jackson’s Puppy Mill Rescue Team hosted an event last weekend and gathered over 100 letters that were sent to Assemblymembers who have the opportunity to vote for the bill. She said they use those events to raise awareness and money to run their transports and pay for dogs’ medical bills.