New York Weighs New Limits On Pet Trade

Legislation winding through the New York City Council would require the sterilization of rabbits and guinea pigs before sale and prohibit the purchase of cats and dogs produced at so-called puppy and kitten mills.


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New York is considering a sterilization requirement for rabbits sold at retail.

Legislation winding through the New York City Council would require the sterilization of rabbits and guinea pigs before sale and prohibit the purchase of cats and dogs produced at so-called puppy and kitten mills.

The proposed laws, which are scheduled to go before the Committee on Health during a public hearing April 30, would impose unreasonable burdens on pet stores, according to the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council.

"At the end of the day, what we're seeing is a very clear program of the testing of legislative efforts that - restrict the sale of animals through pet stores," said Mike Bober, PIJAC's vice president of government affairs.

The committee will consider four proposed pet laws April 30:

  • 55: Would prohibit the sale of puppies and kittens obtained from high-volume breeders.
  • 73: Would update the definition of a pet shop.
  • 136: Would require the spaying or neutering of cats, dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs sold at pet shops.
  • 146: Would mandate the implantation of microchips in cats and dogs sold at pet shops.

The committee may alter, approve or reject legislation brought before it. The final version, if approved, is sent to the full council and ultimately to the mayor for their decision.

Requiring the sterilization of rabbits and guinea pigs is unusual, Bober stated.

"It's the first time I've heard of something like it," he said.

"If you're a store that doesn't sell dogs and cats but sells rabbits and guinea pigs, chances are you really don't have very much in the way of medical facilities at your disposal," he added. "It's just going to be a tremendous burden on somebody who has to do that."

The cost of purchasing a rabbit or guinea pig at a New York pet store could become substantially higher. The Center for Avian and Exotic Medicine on Manhattan's Upper West Side charges $125 for spaying or neutering at one of its periodic low-cost clinics.

Part of measure 136 includes upfront dog licensing and fee collection. An exception would be made for buyers who declare that the dog would live outside the city.

New York would be among a few places to require licensing at the time of purchase.

"It's not common, but it is something have we have seen a couple of jurisdictions beginning to consider," Bober said. "It's something that people are experimenting with in places."

Measure 146 would mandate that cats and dogs be microchipped before sale and that the microchip be registered with the purchaser's contact information.

Bober called the spay, neuter and microchip requirements "relatively tame? compared with measure 55, which could limit the selection of cats and dogs for sale.

"On No. 55, we are going to be actively encouraging people to make their voices heard, turn out, testify," Bober said.

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