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Gov. Cuomo Signs Critical Animal Protection Bill into Law

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Today, Gov. Andrew Cuomo took a huge step forward by enacting a measure to regulate pet dealers – including retail pet breeders and pet stores throughout New York – by authorizing local governments to crack down on cruel and unscrupulous pet dealers. The signing of this legislation puts the power directly in the hands of the communities, who are often times much better-suited at monitoring these types of facilities.

“The puppy mill industry wanted to keep the state law unchanged because it allowed maximum profit and minimum accountability,” said Matt Bershadker, President and CEO of the ASPCA. “But with this law, we’ll be able to keep a closer eye on these operations, stop inhumane practices, and undoubtedly save many lives. For New Yorkers and animal lovers – and animals themselves – this is a huge and important win. The ASPCA stands ready to assist local governments as they seek to enact and enforce tougher laws on pet stores and commercial breeders.”

Introduced in the New York State Legislature by Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) and Sen. Mark Grisanti (R-Buffalo), the new law repeals the provisions of both the Agriculture and Markets Law and General Business Law that prevented local governments from exercising their home rule powers to regulate pet dealers. It does not replace or compromise the state’s existing authority over pet dealers, but rather allows municipalities the option for greater local control and management if desired in their communities.

"Governor Cuomo has taken a critical step to reduce animal suffering, protect consumers and ease the financial burdens of municipalities by authorizing them to enact more stringent pet dealer laws and allowing citizens to have a voice regarding these retail businesses," said Bill Ketzer, senior state director of ASPCA Government Relations for the Northeast region. "We thank the Governor for once again giving a voice to animals, and Senator Grisanti and Assemblymember Rosenthal for their hard work in advancing this legislation to ensure that local governments are empowered to protect their communities."

Prior to the enactment of this legislation, state law expressly prohibited towns and cities from enacting their own measures to help protect dogs in the state’s commercial breeding facilities, where they typically spend their lives in tiny, cramped, wire-floored cages that are stacked on top of each other, often outdoors, with no protection from the elements. Even worse, these communities – who had no say in the regulation of this industry – were forced to absorb the costs associated with unregistered breeders and unwanted pet store dogs through cruelty seizures, sheltering costs, and legal proceedings.

Now, thanks to Gov. Cuomo, local communities have been empowered to take control of what’s happening in their own communities and reduce suffering of the animals housed in the state’s many commercial breeding facilities.

Under Gov. Cuomo’s leadership, New York has enhanced penalties for spectators at animal fights, criminalized the possession of dog fighting tools, curtailed the proliferation of live bird markets in New York City, and banned dangerous heated cage dryers at pet grooming facilities – the first law of its kind in the country.

The ASPCA applauds Gov. Cuomo for his commitment to protecting animals and preserving the integrity of communities across the state of New York. You can thank the Governor as well, by calling his office at (518) 474-8390, or by sending him a tweet @NYGovCuomo.

To learn more about the ASPCA’s efforts to eradicate puppy mills through their national “No Pet Store Puppies” campaign, please visit www.aspca.org.

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