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Opinion: Proposed Ban on Retail Sale of Puppies is Justified

Suffolk County Legislator Jon Cooper proposed a bill this week that would ban the retail sale of puppies. Here is why it should pass.

This week Suffolk County Legislator Jon Cooper, D-Lloyd Harbor, proposed a bill that would ban the retail sale of puppies in Suffolk County. Banning the retail sale of puppies would help shut down the puppy mill business in Long Island. 

But what is a puppy mill and why should they be shut down? If you are not an active part of the dog world, you may not have the answer to this question. Here, I'll try to paint a clearer picture for you.  

First, I will say in full disclosure that my cocker spaniel, Barnum, is a puppy mill rescue.  If you have viewed this column with any regularity you have seen him pictured. If you look at the photos today, you'll see Barnum right after he left the puppy mill, after he spent three years being used as a stud dog. Next, you'll see a picture of Barnum today, a happy, loving, (although emotionally scarred) dog who loves his family and his new life. 

Here's what the ASPCA has to say about puppy mills

A puppy mill is a large-scale commercial dog breeding operation where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs. Unlike responsible breeders, who place the utmost importance on producing the healthiest puppies possible, breeding at puppy mills is performed without consideration of genetic quality. This results in generations of dogs with unchecked hereditary defects.

Puppy mill puppies are typically sold to pet shops—usually through a broker, or middleman—and marketed as young as eight weeks of age. The lineage records of puppy mill dogs are often falsified.

The website Awareness Day goes even further in explaining just how cruel puppy mills are. "Dogs are kept in cages all the time, with the minimum legal space allowed (six inches larger than the dog on all sides), females are bred as often as possible, and when they are no longer able to “produce,” they are discarded," the website says.

The website also states that nearly 4 million dogs are born at puppy mills each year. If you compare this statistic with the one that states that nearly 3-4 million shelter animals are euthanized each year, you can easily see how cutting out puppy mills could potentially save millions of animals from dying a cruel death each year. 

In a press release, Kent Animal Shelter gave their support for Cooper's bill. “Kent’s community has had a strong response to this issue and these poor dogs,” said Pam Green, executive director of Kent Animal Shelter. “Once people know where the adorable little puppies at pet stores are coming from and what they’ve been through,they refuse to support this disgraceful industry by purchasing a dog. I  appreciate Legislator Cooper’s efforts to educate the public and take action here on Long Island.”

I, too, appreciate Legislator Cooper's efforts and I hope with every hope that I can muster that his bill will pass. If you love animals, it's impossible not to hate this horrifying business. 

Peconic Sunset June 13, 2011 at 01:26 AM
I fully support this legislation. It is simply not logical that we allow puppy mills to bring dogs into our county while we have so many being put to sleep every day for lack of homes. The breeding dogs in puppy mills are psychologically and physically harmed in a systematic and cruel manner to increase the profit margin of the mill. I am told they operate within the law of their home states which include Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and others. I hope limiting their access to markets in New York where many if not most of the pups are sold, reduces their profits and they get out of this business. This legislation is sound public policy on multiple levels and should become a model for other counties in New York. Please join me in informing your County Representative of your support.
Matthew J. Ritter June 13, 2011 at 02:36 AM
I'm all for the bill. Selling puppies exclusively is a disgraceful act. I cringe every time I drive past the PUPPY STORE in Aqueboge on Rt 25. I hope the bill passes.
Kady June 13, 2011 at 03:20 AM
I live in Florida. Adopting any animal from the shelter is like pulling teeth. Even if you want a small "inside" animal, they want a fully fenced in yard, an application, huge fees, etc. WAY too much bother! If I want a specific breed, sex and color puppy, the ONLY place I will be able to get one, is through a breeder. I have a dog breeder as a neighbor. He is a responsible breeder. They are not all "puppy mills". Mixed breed dogs are fine. I've had them, too. But if you want a pure breed, you probably won't find just what you want at the pound. The only thing I can see this bill doing, is making people drive a little farther to get the dog that they really want. A similar idea did not pass here because it simply would not be plausable here. Seriously, a three pound chihuahua is a lot easier to put in a doggie pouch and take for a day trip on a Harley, than a forty pound terrier mix!
Karenanne Fitzsimmons June 13, 2011 at 03:49 AM
You want a purebred dog? Go to Petfinder.com. Pages and pages of purebreds waiting in foster homes/shelters. Or, go to a dog show and buy from a reputable breeder -- one who monitors and cares what kind of home their puppies end up in. The breeder who puts their puppies on the truck to the pet store doesn't give a rip about what kind of home that puppy ends up in. No reputable breeder will do that. And if you aren't going to put a fence up, and you arent' willing to commit to walking on a leash daily, then I guess you are going to chain them up outside? Leads to fear biting: a lawsuit for you and the dog goes to the pound to be put down. The human screws it up and the dog suffers. That's why the rescues have those rules. It's for the animal's well being.
Dawn Betke June 13, 2011 at 11:50 AM
There is a major difference between a true breeder and a puppy mill. Admittingly my dog came from a local breeder nearly 5 years ago. This women had all five of the litter and the mama sleeping with her every night! They were not kept in cages, they were kept in clean conditions. I was able to not only see my dog's parents on site but even play with them. Why wouldn't you want to know where your new family edition is coming from should be the real question. I too get physically ill everytime I drive past The puppy Experience in Aquebougue, I'm not really sure what they intend the "experience" to be, but I can say it is not a positive one in my opinion. I was sad to head west over the weekend and find what appears to be a similiar store popped up in the Mount Sinai area. Let's hope this bill passes! @Kady if you really are interested in a small 3 pound "inside" animal why not go with an animal that is meant to be indoors, gerbil, ferret etc. Despite the carriers and "pouches" they sell a dog is not meant to be dropped into a pouch for the day.
Ashley Wilbourn Pinciaro June 13, 2011 at 11:58 AM
Thanks to all of you for your comments. I'm glad to see there is a lot of support for this issue. @Kady - If you are seriously interested in a purebred dog, there are tons available on Petfinder.com. That is where I found my Barnum (the guy in the pictures). He's a purebred american cocker spaniel. I wasn't specifically looking for that breed, but I saw him and knew he was for me. On Petfinder, you can put in the type of breed you are looking for and it will bring up for your tons of rescue dogs that meet your criteria who are looking for a great home. And yes - there are reputable breeders out there. Those breeders would not be selling their dogs to a puppy store.
Peconic Sunset June 13, 2011 at 01:07 PM
Sadly many dogs and cats in shelters will take their final walk down the hall this week. Many started out as the fluffy puppies and kittens in pet stores but their owners said "sorry it isn't working out" and they ended up in kill shelters. Please visit the shelters. They have purebreeds and mixed breed animals. Adopt or foster if you can. And, please spay or neuter you dogs and cats.
Vince Taldone June 13, 2011 at 04:03 PM
Ban them in the county but only if we can ban the importation of puppies similarly derived from abuse but milled in other counties or states. There must be a way to certify the proper care in the process so that LI breeders can comply with acceptable practices and stay in business. Otherwise, we are just moving this shady business to other states which does nothing for the dogs. Please, some one correct me if I am mistaken here. Vince
Pamela Green June 13, 2011 at 05:33 PM
Actually, 25% of sheltered dogs are purebred. At the Kent Animal Shelter, we have had owners surren der "pet shop" puppies that they paid $ 800.00 plus for and decided later that this was not the pet that they really wanted. The bill targets mills not reputable breeders. Since the Kent Animal Shelter has been involved in puppy mill rescue from other states, we have seen the victims of their brutality. What we are seeking to educate people about the suffering that the breeder dogs endure to supply the consumer with that cute little chihuahua etc. Many of the dogs that have been brought to Kent via transports have been in pretty rough shape, unsocialized, genetic defects etc. Is the suffering really worth a consumer actually getting what they want? It's not a product, its a life. Pam Green, Director Kent Animal Shelter
barbara d June 13, 2011 at 09:56 PM
Thank you Jon Cooper. This bill is a giant step in helping suffering puppy mill parent dogs. Consumers have the option to now visit local kennels to see where their puppy is coming from. Consumers can meet the parent dogs. See the condition of the parent dogs. See the condition of the kennels the parent dogs live in. See the interaction between the breeder and the breeding dogs. This bill is a win win for reputable local breeders and consumers.
Linda Slezak June 16, 2011 at 08:26 PM
My reaction is the same. It is shameful. It is not only the Puppy Mills that are disgraceful, the people who buy puppies from them are unconscionable. It is not too different from drug dealers whom are considered to be criminals and the buyers of the drugs. Both are responsible for their actions.
Patricia Astor June 23, 2011 at 02:56 AM
Great, great news. The magnificent Mahatma Ghandi said: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated” The treatment of the parent dogs in puppy mills is pure and simply evil. Nobody should EVER purchase an animal from a pet shop. The cute and dear puppies playing in the window of these shops are products of unspeakable abuse. If only people knew - really knew - the continuous horror from which these irresistible beauties came, I am sure there would be no more mills. Congratulations to you Suffolk County ... perhaps your example will lead the way to our nation becoming a nation which will make Ghandi smile. Patricia Astor

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