By Tom Precious
ALBANY -– Turns out there’s even a puppy mill lobby.
Legislation allowing localities to enact stronger rules regulating puppy mills is stalled in the State Senate as the 2013 session crawls to an end in the next couple days.
The measure, fought by some pet dealer companies, would let local governments enact their own, stricter laws aimed at curbing what the bill’s backers say are abuses in the puppy mill pet dealer industry. Animal welfare groups say many puppy mills offer substandard care for dogs and churn out poorly bred animals that end up having health problems that lead owners to eventually turn their dogs over to resource-drained animal shelters.
The measure, sponsored by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, a Manhattan Democrat, has already passed the Assembly. But it has become stuck in the Senate, where the bill is sponsored by Sen. Mark Grisanti, a Buffalo Republican.
“A few senators with puppy mills in their areas have a problem with it,’’ Grisanti said today as an explanation for the bill being stuck in the Senate Rules Committee.
“It’s one of my huge priorities,’’ Grisanti said of the bill.
The bill would lift restrictions that now keep local governments from enacting regulations stronger than state laws that regulate pet dealers. The bill would let localities address such puppy mill issues as source of animals being offered for sale by pet dealers, whether spaying or neutering should be required before a sale and the health conditions of the facilities housing the dogs.
The measure is backed by associations representing counties and towns, as well as animal welfare groups.
The SPCA of Erie County raised concerns about conditions at some dog breeding operations and that the state agriculture department, which regulates pet dealers, has had its funding cut in recent years and does not have the resources to adequately monitor all the state’s puppy mills.
“The SPCA serving Erie County frequently responds to cruelty cases involving licensed breeders who could be regulated by localities if local governments’ ability to do so were not preempted by state law,’’ the group wrote in a memo supporting the bill.
The bill is not an unfunded mandate on localities, sponsors say, because the measure leaves it up to local governments whether to adopt new pet deal regulations.