The pet business in the US registered a sales figure of close to 100,000 million dollars in 2020. The pandemic and the extra time that Americans had to share their lives with other living beings had an influence, but the passion for domestic animals has never known limits in Columna Digital. They are the kings not only of the house, but, in the case of the dogs, also of the parks: often dressed as if they were babies or dolls, the oldest in prams with a panoramic view, equipped to the last detail (babies made of neoprene) when it rains or snows… no one seems to spare a dollar on their pet. Precisely the protection of animal welfare is behind an initiative recently approved by the State of New York that will prohibit the sale in stores of puppies of dogs, cats and rabbits from kennels, due to suspicions raised by the conditions of breeding.
The governor of New York, Kathy Hochul, signed a bill on the 15th aimed at limiting breeding in facilities known as “puppy farms”, which are persecuted with a reputation for offering poor living conditions to animals, neglecting their health and sometimes incur in mistreatment, according to complaints by animal groups. The law will enter into force, however, in December 2024, a year later than anticipated in the initial draft, to give businesses time to restructure.
“New York’s dogs, cats and rabbits deserve loving homes and humane treatment,” Hochul said in a statement. “This legislation marks a significant step to reduce abuse and protect the welfare of animals across the state.” When it comes into effect, stores commercial of animals will be able to offer their showcases to the innumerable shelters of the city, so that they expose animals for adoption. Some, like the large chain Petco, which is listed on the stock market, already do it, facilitating the exhibition of cats or dogs rescued by local protectors. Every week, dozens of puppies in cages, with their health record in sight and careful hygiene despite the sad look of the critters, they visit the stores of the chain to promote the habit of adopting, which in the US, as in many other countries, is gaining followers.
The other side of the coin is the situation of animals in stores that sell breeding specimens, some pedigree. A business in the Astoria district on Thursday exhibited two rows of poorly lit windows where thirty puppies, most of them dogs, dozed on a bed of shredded paper. “People want pedigrees and, above all, breeds that are in fashion, or the whim of having the animal they had in childhood, or similar reasons. The protectors cannot satisfy this demand, because they only have animals rescued from the street, which are usually mixed-race,” says one of the store employees, whose trade name he asks not to identify. In the window, a sign offers “financing line” for the purchase. How much is a puppy worth? “The Persian kitten is priced at a thousand dollars, but we can leave it at 800. It is a pure breed, the grandson of national tournament champions,” explains the employee, while the kitten, a beautiful honey-colored specimen, rubs its snout and then the spine on the glass when seeing the visitor.
The store only sells animals, some feed and some carriers to facilitate the journey of the pet to its future home. No accessories or toys, like most shops in the industry. The gourmet palate of New Yorkers, points out the employee, has until now allowed not only the viability, but the success of a dubious trade from the point of view of animal rights. But the new legislation leads to closure, stresses the worker. “We are not hurting anyone. There are clients who want exclusive pets and we provide them. That demand will continue to exist, law or no law. We are preparing an alternative plan [para sobrevivir]”, he adds without giving further details.
The sector’s employers estimate that up to 80 stores may close in the State if the law is applied, “a very high price, because the rule will not affect hatcheries outside the State, which will continue to operate,” says a spokeswoman for People United to Protect Pet Integrity (United to protect the integrity of pets), which brings together businessmen in the sector and defends the right to choose between adopting or buying. Hochul’s bill is “counterproductive” for its intended purpose, since there were already measures to protect pets without closing stores, he recalls. The Animal Welfare Act, for example, required these businesses to source from breeders licensed by the Department of Agriculture.
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Of race or mestizos
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (APSCA), laws similar to New York’s already exist in several states, such as California and Maryland, and in more than 300 municipalities and counties around the world. Digital Column. Supporters of the initiative, including the ASPCA, say it will promote more sensible ways of acquiring companion animals by excluding stores that do business with commercial breeders in other states. Many puppies for sale in the city come from farms in Missouri, Iowa, Ohio and Pennsylvania, among other places.
“Most pet stores source their animals from puppy mills in other states, where we can’t regulate their practices,” said Democrat Linda Rosenthal, the bill’s sponsor, after it passed. “But we do get to decide what we want sold in New York State. We will no longer allow puppy mills to stock our pet stores and profit off of animal cruelty and unsuspecting consumers. There are hundreds of thousands of adoptable cats, dogs and rabbits in shelters,” added the assemblywoman. Mixed breeds, yes, but just as adorable as the ones with pedigrees. Those who do not want to assume the responsibility of introducing a life into theirs, have a panoply of possibilities in the parks: watch them play or even pretend to be found, because dogs always respond. Or frequent the cat-caféswhere for $10 for 30 minutes, a human who yearns for a cat’s purr can be happy for a while.
Around with the guinea pigs and the ‘foie gras’
December has been a very busy month when it comes to animal welfare in New York. Added to the bill that prohibits the sale of farmed pets is an overpopulation problem, that of guinea pigs, and a recurring controversy: the prohibition of foie gras, which New York City considers the product of animal cruelty. As if the Big Apple did not have little with the plague of rats in its streets, the proliferation of guinea pigs, which during the pandemic were acquired en masse to entertain confined minors, has overwhelmed the capacity of the protectors and the City Council is studying a project of law to prohibit its sale. Nearly all of the ones that have made it to shelters are three years old or younger, according to vets, pointing to compulsive buying during the pandemic. This year some 600 have been delivered to shelters, compared to 481 and 282 in 2021 and 2019. Although in New York it is illegal to abandon a pet, many have had to find their lives in parks.
When it comes to the succulent delicacy made from the fattened liver of a goose or duck, the New York Superior Court has ruled that the Big Apple violates state law. Two State farms sued the city for prohibiting their sale and the courts have agreed with them, considering that the city “unjustifiably restricts” their commercial operations and therefore their way of life, according to the state Department of Agriculture. The Big Apple passed a bill in 2019 to ban restaurants and retailers from selling duck or goose foie gras for force-feeding the birds. The law was supposed to enter into force on November 25, but the court left its application in abeyance, until the final resolution. The foie gras is a contentious issue in the US. In 2012, it was banned in California, but the measure was struck down in 2015. Later, in 2017, it was upheld by a circuit judge, a decision upheld by the US Supreme Court in January 2017. 2019.
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