Animal rights proponents and Suffolk County Legis. Jon Cooper rallied at a county meeting this week to support a proposed bill to ban the retail sale of puppies in Suffolk County.
Cooper said he is proposing the bill to “combat the problem of puppy mills,” breeding operations where pet shop retailers get many of their animals.
“When pet stores buy from breeders, 99.9 percent of the time they’re buying them from puppy mills,” he said at the Tuesday afternoon meeting in Riverhead.
According to the Animal Rights Coalition’s Website:
- Four to five million animals die in shelters every year (roughly 11,000 per day).
- About 20 percent of animals in shelters are purebred.
- It’s estimated that four million dogs are bred in puppy mills every year.
- There are nearly 6,000 USDA-licensed commercial kennels in the U.S.
Pam Green, Executive Director of Kent Animal Shelter in Calverton, described puppy mills as “squalid and inhumane” and supported the proposed ban at the meeting.
“What this legislation will accomplish will not only help put an end to squalid, inhumane conditions of the puppy mills, but it will also be instrumental in the education of consumers that the cute little puppy they’re about to purchase is the product of the horror of puppy mills,” she said.
Sarah Davidson of the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons agreed, saying that “puppies playing in windows plays at the heartstrings of an unsuspecting public.”
But Jeff Silverstein, who owns several pet shops in Manhattan, Nassau County and northern New Jersey, said that passing a bill to ban established businesses is not constitutional.
“You can’t just shut someone down,” he said. “That’s not America. You have to go after pet stores that don’t care.”
Others at the meeting questioning the bill wanted more proof that most retail puppies come from puppy mills.
“In reality, there are no statistics that provide the numbers for what the people in favor of this proposition are talking about—no legit ones—no statistics,” said cat breeder Joan Bernstein.
Amy Azzara Cirincione, owner of the of Cutchogue and animal rescuer, said that no reputable breeder with high standards of care and placement would give her their dogs to sell in a retail environment.
“In all of my research and experience, I have found that there is no way for me to sell puppies from my retail establishment that does not contribute to the suffering of both the parent dogs and the puppies bred from them,” she said.
Gillian Wood Pultz, Director of the, said she supported the proposed law because “every single puppy originally purchased from a pet store that has ended up at my shelter has a microchip that is traced back to a puppy mill.”
A store manager of retail pet store the Puppy Experience in Aquebogue said that he did not want to comment on the issue at this time.