An Upper West Side Assemblywoman joined with publishing empire heiress Amanda Hearst today to crack down on upstate New York's "puppy mills."
That's the nickname for the large-scale breeding facilities that dot rural New York and other parts of the country, and churn out puppies by the hundreds, to be sold at a high profit in pet stores.
Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal introduced legislation today that will both expand the definition of what a puppy mill is and also improves living conditions for dogs at the farms.
Often, dogs at these facilities live in cramped, wire-floored cages for their entire lives, and female dogs are forced to breed in nearly constant cycles.
“A typical puppy mill will have several hundred cages, stacked one on top of another, with three to four dogs in each cage,” said Tim Rickey, a Missouri-based ASPCA field investigator told Metro last year. “Half of them live in their own urine and feces, and the animals on the bottom cages get the urine dripping down on them. It’s pitiful.”
"It is unconscionable that any dog is forced to spend their entire lives in congested, cramped cages, forced to breed litter after litter, for ill-gotten gains for the owners," said Rosenthal today.
The legislation she proposes amends the existing definition of pet dealer to include “wholesalers,” breeders who sell animals wholesale to pet stores or to brokers. The law as it is currently written limits the definition of pet dealer to breeders who sell directly to the public.
Heiress animal activism
Hearst, great-granddaughter of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, and heiress to the $5-billion-a-year Hearst publishing empire, has been active in ending inhumane puppy mills.
She founded Friends of Finn after learning that Finn, the pooch she bought from a New York City pet store, had indeed come from a puppy mill.
Hearst participated in a puppy mill raid in North Carolina in March that helped save 88 puppies and a pregnant cat.
Require better conditions for dogs
Rosenthal's bill would also require the farms to have dogs inspected by a veterinarian once per year.
Temperatures where dogs are kept must remain between 45 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and solid flooring must be used in cages. Additionally, cages must be big enough for dogs to fully turn around, lie down and fully extend their limbs.
Puppy mills will be required to provide each dog with unfettered access to areas twice as large as their enclosure to play and exercise.