“The Dog Days Are Over” Legislature Passes Law to Protect Pets in Suffolk County

On June 3rd, Suffolk County became the first county in New York State to take advantage of the recently signed state law authorizing municipalities to adopt stricter local regulations for pet dealers when it adopted Introductory Resolution 1047-2014, popularly known as "the puppy mill bill," a local law to regulate pet dealers and pet stores.  The resolution, co-sponsored by Suffolk County Legislator William R. Spencer, M.D., and sponsored by Deputy Presiding Officer Jay Schneiderman, is a common-sense approach to protecting animals and Suffolk County consumers.

“Our legislation was the product of a significant grassroots movement that has long-sought to improve the quality of pets being sold to the public while simultaneously recognizing the needs of local pet stores," said Legislator Spencer.  "This legislation does exactly that.  It is strong, it will inform our residents, and it will ensure that they purchase pets that are healthy."  

The resolution that was passed by the Legislature was the result of a long and carefully-orchestrated process that involved the input of numerous animal rights advocates and representatives of pet stores and pet dealers in Suffolk County.  The resolution, which will become law after it is signed by the County Executive Steven Bellone, will:

  • Prohibit pet stores or dealers from selling pets originating from breeders who have received violations from recent inspections conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
  • Require pet stores and pet dealers to provide information on the background of a pet upon request by a consumer, including the pet’s origin, USDA records, and other supplemental documentation.
  • Require that animals are sold in Suffolk County at or after 8 weeks of age.
  • Be enforced by the Suffolk County Department of Labor, Licensing, and Consumer Affairs.
  • Require that any pet store or dealer who violates the law be fined $500 per violation.

Suffolk County passed this law to regulate pet dealers at the local level under the authority that was granted to it by New York State earlier this year.  The New York State resolution, signed into law by Governor Cuomo in January, authorized municipal governments to enact more stringent laws than the ones that existed at the state level by removing the preemption on municipalities to enact their own laws regulating or licensing pet dealers. Any new local law is required to be at least as stringent as state law and any law cannot allow the banning of the sale of animals raised in a safe and healthy manner.

 The County’s new law also builds upon a resolution that was passed by the Legislature at the end of 2011.  Sponsored by former Legislator Jon Cooper, the “Puppy and Dog Protection Rating Program” used a volunteer-based system to rate pet stores, where the Suffolk County Pet Store Rating Board would only rate those stores in Suffolk County who volunteered to do so.

 “Animal rights advocates, pet stores and pet dealers, and consumers all had a stake in the success of this process,” said Legislator Spencer.  “I firmly believe that our new law is a balanced agreement that will have a positive impact in Suffolk County and ensure that all of our pets are happy and healthy members of our families.”

Linda Goldsmith June 04, 2014 at 09:22 AM
Bravo to those like Sara from ARF, and Dori of Save A Pet who helped to push this bill through! Next we need to close down the puppy mills, period! Reputable, licensed, registered breeders only! Adopt, don't shop!
Gabe Gonsalves June 04, 2014 at 09:54 AM
Nice job to all who helped to get this done!


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