Movement to Ban ‘Puppy Mill’ Dogs in Pet Stores Gains Steam

By: - June 7, 2021 12:00 am

A puppy plays with toys at a pet store in Maryland in 2019. Maryland has since banned pet stores from selling commercially bred dogs and cats. A number of other states are implementing or considering similar laws. Jose Luis Magana/The Associated Press

With Washington state’s governor signing a bill into law in April that bans puppy mill dogs from being sold in pet stores, and Illinois’ governor likely to do the same in a matter of days, animal advocates are welcoming what appears to be a growing effort to prohibit pet stores from selling badly bred and ill-raised dogs.

The first statewide ban began in California in 2017, following ones in many cities and smaller jurisdictions before that. Now, momentum for the movement to ban the sales of dogs from unsafe and often illegal breeding sources in pet stores appears to be growing. Maryland banned pet stores from selling puppies and kittens in 2018, and Maine’s similar law was signed last year.

All so far are blue states, but even in red Texas, a bill that would ban puppy mill dogs from appearing in pet stores as a “product” for sale came “within an inch” of passing, according to John Goodwin, senior director of the Humane Society’s “Stop Puppy Mills” campaign.

Both the Texas House and Senate passed measures. The two bills went to conference but did not emerge before the Texas legislature adjourned at the end of last month.

“It didn’t pass, but it really shows the issue is nearing a tipping point,” Goodwin said in a phone interview.

New York also is considering similar legislation. But opponents there have said the people really being hurt by the legislation are nurturing pet breeders and ethical pet stores, rather than only puppy mills.

“Under current law, the responsible breeders that pet stores partner with are the most regulated and inspected sources for New Yorkers to purchase a puppy, kitten, or bunny,” the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, an interest group for pet stores and other industry players, said in a statement.

“We all agree that bad breeders need to be shut down, but this misguided bill will not do that. In reality, the bad breeders this legislation targets will go untouched while responsible pet stores pay the price and will be forced to close their doors and lay off hardworking New Yorkers.”

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Elaine S. Povich
Elaine S. Povich

Elaine S. Povich covers consumer affairs for Stateline. Povich has reported for Newsday, the Chicago Tribune and United Press International.