NYC Puppy-Sale Restrictions Anger Pet Shops

     BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CN) – A pair of recent New York City laws to end “puppy mills” will actually cause the deaths of more dogs, the pet-shop industry says in Federal Court.
     The New York Pet Welfare Association filed suit Monday to challenge the City Council’s passage of Local Laws 5 and 7, which took effect that same day.
     Based in New Jersey, the association describes itself as a nonprofit trade group, “formed to ensure that pet owners continue to have access to healthy, humanely treated, purebred puppies.”
     Local Law 5 bans the sales of pets to city shops, bans breeders from selling their animals to pet shops without a sign-off from veterinarians, and bans the sale of “healthy purebred, or specially bred” puppies 8 to 12 weeks old.
     The NYPWA says any puppy bought over the weekend now has its life in jeopardy because its resale is banned.
     “Puppies are not fungible products that can be discarded or stored,” the complaint states.
     Pet shops with puppies from now-banned sources must now give the animals away or break the law.
     “Without immediate injunctive relief the pet shops will not survive and puppies will die,” according to the complaint.
     The NYPWA contends that hobby breeders have a right to sell to pet shops, and that the pet shops also “rely on puppy sales to remain profitable.”
     “Without a source of puppies to sell, pet shops will go out of business,” the 84-page complaint states.
     Local Law 7 also goes too far, the NYPWA alleges, in requiring veterinarians to sterilize all dogs and cats before their sale. Dogs resold from pet shops must all be sterilized under this law as well.
     This move shows that “the city has replaced professional judgment with a mandate that jeopardizes the veterinarian’s license and patient’s health,” according to the complaint.
     The NYPWA quotes testimony from veterinarians that mandatory sterilization is not always in the interests of their patients, and can sometimes “result in harm and even death.”
     “A pet shop is not an appropriate environment for pre- and post-operative care for mandatory sterilization of dogs and cats, particularly if the procedure is required at 8-12 weeks of age, when most puppies are sold,” the complaint states. “At this age, the immune system of the animal is still developing [sic] responding to vaccinations which are recommended at specific times for preventive care.”
     Sterilizing all young puppies will certainly result in some deaths, while “others will suffer from short and long-term maladies,” the lawsuit states.
     Patient suffering exposes veterinarians to malpractice liability, and pet shops will face animal-cruelty violations, according to the complaint.
     “There is no doubt – NYPWA members will be immediately and irreparably harmed” once the laws take effect, the group says.
     Chicago adopted a similar law and was also hit with a federal lawsuit this year.
     The lawsuit in New York accuses the city council of giving preference to shelters and rescuers over pet shops and breeders. Though the new law requires pet shops to sterilize puppies before selling them, rescuers face no such restrictions.
     The laws also ban the sale from other states and around the world, but activists say the lawmakers lack “a legitimate local interest” to do so. “Their intent is to regulate dog breeding in the Midwest,” according to the complaint.
     New York City, its council and council members Corey Johnson and Elizabeth Crowley are named as defendants, as is New York State Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal.
     The NYPWA is represented by Nancy Halpern with Fox Rothschild in Manhattan.

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