Riverhead Supervisor Presses Pause Button On Bill To Regulate Animal Sales In Pet Shops

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The draft municipal code regulating the operation of pet stores that sell dogs and cats is pending.

City Councilor Ken Rothwell, who proposed the code changes during last week’s working session, told RiverheadLOCAL after the working session last Thursday that city council would vote to hold a public hearing on the code changes at the city council meeting on Tuesday. But the resolution was not put on the meeting’s agenda.

Supervisor Yvette Aguiar sent an email to city council on Monday morning asking them to “reconsider” the progress of Rothwell’s bill. She forwarded to council (along with the city clerk and deputy supervisor) an email sent moments earlier by a public relations agency for a pet dealer advocacy group, along with a memorandum. opposing the bill under consideration in Riverhead.

“I think we should all reconsider not getting things done and being better informed of the long-term ramifications of his legislation,” Aguiar wrote in the email, which, along with the opposition note, said was obtained by RiverheadLOCAL. “I am available to discuss this matter further,” she wrote.

The note, dated “August 2021” and addressed to city council, is on the letterhead of People United to Protect Pet Integrity, known by the acronym “PUPPI,” a New York-based organization backed by pet merchants. pets opposed restrictions on the sale of dogs raised in puppy mills. The email is from Jenny Kate Schlegal of Millennial Strategies. It was on the agenda of the August 3 city council meeting by correspondence as an item received in “opposition to the bill to ban pet shop operations”, but the agenda only mentioned Shlegal’s name and did not mention PUPPI or the memorandum.

Asked about her request not to move Rothwell’s bill forward, Aguiar said it was the councilman’s idea. In an email to RiverheadLOCAL on Thursday evening, Aguiar wrote:

“Councilor Rothwell discussed the legislation in more detail with me and indicated that he would like to have an additional working session regarding potential legislation, before moving forward. He further indicated that he wished to review pending state legislation in Albany and seek further legal advice from the prosecutor’s office. I respected his approach. Subsequently, I received an email opposing the legislation and forwarded it to the entire board of directors and the clerk, in an effort to keep the entire board informed. [as written]. ”

In an interview on Friday, Rothwell gave a different explanation. He said the resolution setting the public hearing was not on the August 3 agenda because council members Frank Beyrodt and Tim Hubbard were absent for the July 29 working session.

Rothwell’s bill would prohibit the sale by pet stores of dogs and cats other than animals from animal shelters, animal control agencies, humanitarian societies, or non-profit rescue groups registered with the state. It would require stores to provide a certificate of origin for all animals offered for sale proving they come from one of those sources. The legislation would not restrict individual purchases from licensed breeders, nor would it affect the adoption of pets from shelters or rescue groups.

The proposed code provides for fines from a minimum of $ 250 for the first offense to a maximum of $ 2,500 for a third offense and subsequent offenses, as well as a jail term of up to 30 days. Pet facility operators would have up to 90 days to comply with the new code after its effective date.

Rothwell said he remains committed to passing the legislation, which he says has garnered support from residents who have had bad experiences with dogs raised in puppy mills. He said he received little correspondence opposing it.

The city councilor said the legislation was not intended to target specific pet stores in Riverhead. “If you ask me, whether it’s a business or 10 businesses, animal abuse is animal abuse and it must stop immediately – and puppy mills are child abuse. animals, ”said Rothwell. Additionally, dogs raised in puppy mills are often inbred and have many health issues, he said.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, a puppy mill is “a high volume inhumane dog breeding facility that produces puppies for profit, ignoring the needs of puppies and their mothers.” The bitches in the mills are overcrossed and often killed or abandoned after they are unable to breed, according to the company. Puppies that come from factories often suffer from health problems after their purchase.

There are an estimated 10,000 operating puppy mills in the United States; About 500,000 dogs are kept for breeding purposes only in factories and 2.6 million crushed puppies are sold each year, according to the Humane Society.

The law would affect two stores in the town of Riverhead, according to the Puppy Mill Free Long Island website, a group that brings together pet stores that sell puppy mill dogs and organizes protests against them. The stores are The Puppy Experience at 487 Main Road in Aquebogue and the Sportsman Kennel at 75 Schultz Road in Manorville.

PUPPI’s opposition memo argues that the sale of dogs through pet stores is “the only completely transparent and regulated way to buy dogs available to families.” They argue that Riverhead’s legislation is all about shutting down small businesses.

PUPPI further contends that the inspections and regulations established by the state and the US Department of Agriculture provide “protections for both animals and the consumer.”

Read the PUPPI below: PUPPI-memo

Opponents of puppy mills, however, argue that USDA inspection and regulations are not enough to ensure the humane treatment of animals at these facilities.

One of those organizations is Harley’s Dream, a Colorado group opposed to puppy mills. The organization also sent city council a note supporting the law, along with fact sheets from various animal rights organizations that describe it. Harley’s Dream memo, dated July 30, was not in the correspondence on the August 3 city council agenda.

“Responsible breeders do NOT sell their puppies to pet stores,” the letter reads. “This pet store ordinance would have no impact on them.”

Harley’s Dream said pet stores would not be forced to close, unlike comments from organizations like PUPPI. They make most of their profits from selling pet supplies and accessories. Rothwell expressed the same idea in a call with RiverheadLOCAL.

Read the Harley’s Dream letter below: Harleys-Dream-letter

Suffolk County enacted legislation in 2014 that prohibits pet stores or dealers from selling pets from breeders who were violated in recent inspections conducted by the USDA. County law prohibits the sale of puppies under 8 weeks of age, are healthy, and are weaned from their mothers. It prohibits the sale of animals from any dealer that has been subject to certain USDA violations in the past two years. It requires animal dealers to provide background information on an animal at a consumer’s request, including the animal’s origin, USDA records, and other additional documents.

A bill currently pending in the New York state legislature would completely ban the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits by pet stores. The bill passed by qualified majority in the state Senate in May, but has yet to be passed by the assembly, where it remains in committee. State Senator Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) is one of the bill’s many co-sponsors.

Denise Civiletti contributed to this story.

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