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New law closes "loophole" used by unscrupulous pet dealers

SPCA Serving Erie County

A new law that cracks down on unscrupulous pet dealers has been signed by Governor Cuomo.

Animal advocates say some pet dealers have long taken advantage of legal loopholes that allowed them to be classified as humane societies to avoid regulations. Gina Browning of the SPCA Serving Erie County believes this law will help keep many animals out of harm’s way.

“We’re thrilled over this. I mean, we are one of the organizations that was helping to advance this bill. It’s something that has been a long time coming. We’ve been working on it for quite a while and we are thrilled that it has now been signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.” 

The SPCA is one of the organizations that lobbied to advance this bill and is thrilled about it being passed. This new law will require pet businesses that transport or offer animals for adoption in the State, to register with the Department of Agriculture and Markets. Browning said pet dealers’ treatment of animals would often be considered cruelty.

“We’re talking about conditions that can be as deplorable as 20 or 30 dogs in one kennel that hasn’t been cleaned in months. We’re talking about animals that could be two, three, four, five years old and don’t know what it is to be touched by human hands.”

Some animals would have urine and acid burns on them, were malnourished, or had to have all of their teeth pulled, because they weren’t given any veterinary care. Browning said she was frustrated over not being able to save these animals.

“There’s nothing like that feeling of being faced with a situation where you see that animals are being abused in some way. You see that there is some kind of animal cruelty but there’s no law to back up our doing something about it or our intervening. We leave some of these places and some of these houses and we know that the animal is being abused.”

The same legal loopholes that allowed pet dealers to skirt the law are also responsible for the number of licensed pet dealers declining by 40-percent over the last five years. Browning said the new law allows the SPCA and other agencies to respond to tips about offending pet dealers.

Animals that people buy from pet dealers are usually sick and require a great deal of treatment in order to keep them alive. Browning said people have already fallen in love with these animals and are left with limited options to save animals.

“They’re not going to take the animal to be euthanized. They’re not going to take the animal back to the person from whom they’ve obtained it because they feel now it’s my job to rescue this animal, it’s my job to do something about it. Yup, I’m going to invest the four or five thousand dollars it’s going to take this animal to survive. Sometimes the animal survives and sometimes it doesn’t.”

Browning said this law is only good if people continue to call about pet dealers and make sure animals are being kept out of harm’s way.

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