Nassau County lawmakers passed a bill that aims to prevent the sale of dogs from puppy mills over the objections of some animals rights advocates that say it doesn’t go far enough.
The Republican-controlled county legislature passed the bill Monday mostly along party lines by a vote of 12-7. The legislation would bar pet stores from selling dogs or cats younger than eight weeks old or supplied by breeders that have unresolved U.S. Department of Agriculture violations. It also sets new documentation requirements for such sales.
“If we had more time we would be able to do a more concrete bill,” said Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport), who led the Democrats in voting against the bill, which he said should have been stricter.
Suffolk County lawmakers passed a similar measure in June, also barring the sale of puppies and kittens younger than 8 weeks old—but that version bars pet stores from using breeders that have had a USDA violation within the past year. Both bills come after New York State enacted a law that allows local governments to more strictly regulate pet dealers.
The Nassau bill was proposed by Legis. Michael Venditto (R-Massapequa), who is running for state Senate against Legis. Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick), who proposed an another version of the bill that didn’t come up for a vote. Denenberg’s version increased the age of puppies and kittens for sale to 14 weeks.
Denenberg argued that the longer nursing time would allow the puppies more time to socialize and decrease the amount of puppies that breeders can sell. Gary Rogers, the spokesman for the Nassau County Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), said that his group determined eight weeks is best for pups.
Animal rights activists who spoke at a public hearing before the vote criticized Venditto’s version of the bill, saying that it’s too lenient on breeders with violations of a federal law that they say is already too weakly enforced. They said allowing breeders to sell to pet stores again after correcting their violations will encourage more puppy mills.
Diane Madden, the president and co-founder of the Hope for Hempstead animal shelter, who helped Denenberg craft his version of the bill, said the Republican version of the legislation was “worse than no bill at all.”
Presiding Normal Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) said that the bill could be amended if problems arise. “The door’s not shut because we voted on a piece of legislation today,” she said.