Video footage shows dogs pacing and circling in cramped cages, many stacked three high with painful wire floors. Dogs at facilities like these—which we consider puppy mills—receive inadequate care and spend their entire lives in such cages, often exposed to heat or cold. Some puppy mills featured in the HSUS’s Horrible Hundred report, an annual sampling of problematic breeders throughout the country, have been found to “euthanize” unwanted dogs by gunshot. Four of the puppy mills photographed in 2020 have appeared in one or more of our Horrible Hundred reports.
Those in the animal welfare community know that the only protection the federal government offers animals sold in commerce—including household pets—is the Animal Welfare Act, which allows breeders to keep dogs in conditions most animal lovers would consider cruel.
“I don’t know what I was expecting from them or was expecting to get out of them,” she says. “Maybe more complimentary vet visits or a recommendation for a specialist, you know? But not that. No, you’re not taking her away from me.”
What isn’t as commonly known is that the USDA inspectors entrusted with enforcing the act repeatedly find breeders in violation of even its minimal standards but fail to revoke their breeding licenses. The HSUS’s recent undercover investigation revealed just that: animals living in miserable conditions at dozens of licensed breeding facilities in the Midwest that have rarely, if ever, been cited for serious violations by the USDA.
It turns out that Citipups is one of at least 50 stores (including Petland, the subject of multiple HSUS undercover investigations) that sourced puppies from one or more of the squalid puppy mills photographed during a recent HSUS undercover investigation. Dijon was born in a dismal mass-breeding facility in Macomb, Missouri, and spent the first months of her life in a puppy mill kennel and then a pet store cage.
Senate Deputy Majority Leader Mike Gianaris, sponsor of the bill in the Senate, knocked the idea that there are responsible pet stores out there.
âEven if there are individual pet store owners that are trying to do the right thing, the way the industry works is when theyre getting mass produced animals from breeders, often outside of state, they tend to be from the mills,â Sen. Gianaris said. âTheres not a pet score that is unaffected by that.â
âWhat it does instead is it actually creates a situation where people are being driven away from the most regulated most transparent source for pets,â Bober said about this pet store bill. âAnd instead theyre being directed to Craigslist, to black markets and smaller unregulated sources where unlike pet stores in New York, warranty laws and Consumer Protection simply doesnt exist.â
Once they sell someone a pet, that customer is likely to come back to buy food and other supplies, since these small stores have a harder time competing with box stores when it comes to prices.
The intent of this bill is to crack down on high-volume breeding facilities, known as puppy mills. But many pet stores say this bill would put them out of business.
Do the Amish run puppy mills?
Dog farming is a large part of the economy for many Amish communities. Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Holmes County, Ohio, and Shipshewana, Indiana are home to thousands of breeding dogs that will spend their lives in puppy mills. … The dogs in these Amish mills are treated like livestock.
Puppy Mills: What They Are & How to Stop Them
Gov. Kathy Hochul will make long-awaited decisions in the coming days to sign or veto several bills aimed to improve animal welfare in New York.
One measure, which supporters dubbed the “Puppy Mill Pipeline” bill, had advocates engaging in debate most of the year. Sponsored by Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris, the legislation would ban the retail sale of live animals in New York that were bred under inhumane conditions.
It would force New York pet stores, like CitiPups in New York City, to change their business model. Dog sales make up about 85% of the stores revenue, with food, crates and supplies making up the other 15%.
“This bill doesnt increase the standards of care legally that these breeders have to abide by,” said CitiPups manager Emilio Ortiz. “It doesnt hold them directly accountable for their actions or shut them down.”
The legislation aims to prevent the buying and selling of animals from large-scale breeders that lack proper veterinary care, food or socialization and hurt their supply chain.
Ortiz is a boardmember of the organization Puppy People United to Protect Pet Integrity, representing 15 pet stores across the state. He and other pet store owners maintain the legislation would only hurt the states roughly 80 pet stores, which are small businesses, and increase the rate of pet-buying scams and violent dog theft.
“They make us all feel good, but they dont solve the problem and it causes a lot of other problems,” said Ortiz, adding about 35% of all online scams in 2021 involved buying a pet.
Bill sponsor Sen. Gianaris, a Democrat from Queens, said the law allows breeders to sell directly to customers and any pet store not buying from an abusive source would not have to close up shop.
“We shouldnt be thinking about letting your business continue on the backs of our four-legged friends who are suffering in order to create a supply chain,” Gianaris said Monday. “…This bill would ban the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits that would cut off the puppy mill pipeline, which encourages this mass production of animals and treats them like a product as opposed to a living thing.”
CitiPups works with dozens of breeders across the nation that Ortiz says they visit to ensure the animals are treated humanely.
CitiPups was named on ASPCAs list of pet stores earlier this year that get their puppies from problematic commercial breeding facilities, largely located in the Midwest, according to its April 2022 report “Where New York pet stores get puppies.”
Ortiz stresses these kinds of lists from activist groups are biased and target pet stores, as they dont reveal the rescue organizations or shelters that buy animals from them as well.
“Its a bit intellectually dishonest because, youre not showing the bigger picture, and as a result, now we have policies like this where everybody just makes the assumption that every single breeder that a pet store works with looks like the ones you see on TV that are filthy and the [dogs] are dying, and that just simply isnt the case,” he said.
There is no legal definition of how to classify a “puppy mill” or similar commercial breeder.
Advocates say theyve had continuing conversations with Gov. Hochul about the measure over the last month. Representatives in the governors office have asked both pet stores and lawmakers a series of questions about its potential economic impacts in the last several weeks as Hochul mulls her decision.
The measure passed the state Legislature this session with rare wide bipartisan support, giving the Senate deputy majority Leader additional hope for the governors support.
“If Republicans and Democrats can come together around this bill, we can find a way to get the governor there, also,” Gianaris said.
The pet industry nets about $130 million annually in the U.S. About 2% of sales in the industry come from the sale of animals.â