UPDATE: Suffolk County, NY Legislation to be Rewritten

UPDATE: Suffolk County, NY Legislation to be Rewritten

 

Representative Cooper, the primary sponsor of IR 1545 announced this afternoon that he is withdrawing this bill, based on the concerns of the Suffolk County Legislative Counsel that the measure is unconstitutional under New York State law.  However, Rep. Cooper has vowed to re-write this bill before the end of the week.

AKC Government Relations will continue to follow this issue and keep you informed as more information becomes available.

Amended Suffolk County, NY Bill Continues Attack on Breeders

July 26, 2011

The Suffolk County, New York Legislature has scheduled a public hearing on August 2 for IR-1545, a measure that—even as amended—continues to contain numerous inaccurate, misleading, and unsubstantiated claims that impugn the integrity of dog breeders from outside Suffolk county – and implies that all professional/commercial dog breeders are “substandard” or “puppy mills”.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) appreciates the sponsor’s willingness to remove misleading and inaccurate claims made about the AKC.  However, the AKC remains concerned about the intent of the bill, which continues to malign breeders with a number of wildly inaccurate and offensive claims.

The AKC encourages responsible Suffolk County dog owners to politely but firmly express their opposition to this measure by attending the public hearing August 2 and by directly contacting members of the county Legislature. Scroll down for hearing and contact information.

Summary:

The Legislative Intent contained in Suffolk County IR-1545 describes conditions of animal cruelty and neglect that are illegal throughout the United States and inaccurately assigns to commercial kennels. The American Kennel Club supports full enforcement of cruelty and negligence laws and advocates for additional resources wherever needed to assist local, state and federal authorities in enforcing these laws.

IR 1545 makes numerous other broad and inaccurate claims, including:

  • The Suffolk County Legislature can educate consumers about such conditions by prohibiting Suffolk County pet shops from selling or adopting out puppies.

  • Implies that all female dogs bred in the United States are mistreated, abandoned and/or killed.

  • Assumes that no “commercial breeders” are reputable (the term “commercial breeder” is not defined).  The legislative intent in this bill neglects the real issue of animal welfare, which focuses on the quality of care given to animals, not the number of animals an individual owns. Responsible breeders should not be defined simply by the number of dogs kept, or whether they make a profit in selling dogs. Rather, responsible breeders should be characterized by the quality of care and conditions that they provide their dogs and the quality (including health, temperament and breed type) of the puppies they produce.

The bill also:

  • Outlaws the sale of puppies at traditional, licensed and regulated pet stores.

  • Permits shelters and rescues to operate unlicensed pet stores by purchasing puppies through regulated or unregulated wholesale channels for resale in Suffolk County.

Impact:

According to the US Census, Suffolk County’s population in 2010 was 1,493,350. According to American Veterinary Medical Association estimates, this population owns approximately 222,210 dogs. Assuming even a static population replacement rate, local shelter intake rates in Suffolk County and local responsible hobby breeders cannot meet this demand for pets. Pet stores bridge this gap, providing pets that, by law, must come from kennels that have been inspected, and have received basic health checks. However, by closing down shops that provide puppies from inspected and licensed kennels, this measure limits consumer choice within the county, incentivizes potentially irresponsible breeding locally, and may induce consumers to purchase puppies online where no such regulation and oversight of retailers or breeding facilities and there is little opportunity for one-on-one education.

The requirements of the bill do nothing to address the real problem of cruelty and negligence, and are likely to actually expand animal issues within the county.

How You Can Help:

  • Attend the hearing and express your concerns with IR 1545.  The meeting information is as follows:

    Date:  Tuesday, August 2
    Time:   4:00 p.m. (Possible time change?  Agenda not yet posted)
    Location:  Hauppauge Legislative Auditorium
    W.H. Rogers Legislature Building
    725 Veterans Memorial Highway
    Smithtown, NY 11787                 

The AKC Government Relations Department will continue to closely monitor this legislation.  For more information, contact AKC GR at (919) 816-3720 or doglaw@akc.org.