To stop treating companion animals like commodities

NEW YORK STATE – opinion/news story: Deputy Senate Majority Leader Mike Gianaris, a Democrat from Queens, summed up the reason why New York state is heading towards a situation where the sale of cats, dogs and rabbits at retail stores would be banned.

The question is whether we should be treating our animals like commodities, as something you pick up off the store shelf at a supermarket. – Deputy Senate Majority Leader Mike Gianaris

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David Barton Jacoby, owner of Citipups who is unhappy with the proposal to ban the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits at pet stores in New York state. Photo: JIMMY VIELKIND/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL.

This is not the first state to do this. He wants to chip away at the attitude of the citizens of New York state who perhaps subconsciously treat animals as commodities that you pick up off-the-shelf at a supermarket. It is genuinely unacceptable to breed cats and dogs specifically for sale at pet stores when they are rescue cats and dogs freely available across the state.

And most of us now know that a lot of breeders set very low standards of animal welfare. They are often puppy mills where the female breeding animal is ill treated and where the kittens and puppies sometimes end up with chronic illnesses. It’s a story which happens in the UK as well. People adopt young puppies and kittens for pet stores which on the face of it are healthy. Chronic illnesses are discovered very soon after adoption at which point the adopter has the terrible task of deciding what to do because by then they are attached to their companion animal. They often end up forking out a fortune in veterinary bills to try and bring their animal back to good health.

It is impossible to argue against a law which bans the selling of cats and dogs and rabbits at retail stores unless they are rescue animals and the charge is an adoption fee. This is why the bill is almost certainly going to be passed in my view and come into law and why the legislation cleared the Senate committee by vote of 6 to 0. It will affect 80 stores.

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The multi-store pet supply retailer, PetSmart, would be exempt from the new regulations because they partner with local government animal shelters to promote the adoption of rescue animals. PetSmart supports the new legislation because they believe that regulations placed on breeders to raise their game is better than restricting the choices of potential cat and dog adopters. A lot of cat breeders sell direct to the public so I suppose they are excempt too.

Of course, pet stores will be upset. One example is David Barton Jacoby, owner of Citipups in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, who sells about 900 domestic dogs annually across his various pet stores and there are 35 dogs in each one at any one time. He works with 14 breeders within the US and he says that he sells only healthy and well cared for dogs. As dogs account for 80% of his business, the new regulations would put him out of business. I take his point but he is still encouraging the creation of more companion animals when there is a surfeit.

New York state is, I would argue, one of the leading US states for animal welfare on their recent track record. They banned cat declawing recently across the state. They are the first state to ban declawing and it was a brave move to do so.

The post is based on a Wall Street Journal report of Feb 3rd by Jimmy Vielkind.


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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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