Legislator Jon Cooper (D-Huntington) has pulled the bill that would ban the retail sale of puppies in Suffolk County and replaced it with a proposal for a rating system for pet stores.
Cooper withdrew the bill after he was advised by legal counsel that the bill is preempted by a New York State law that prohibits local municipalities from enforcing any legislation that regulates pet stores. In its place he is putting a proposal that would instill a rating system for pet stores that sell puppies, in the hopes that this will encourage people to only shop at places that receive their animals from reputable breeders and provide high levels of care.
The “Pet Store Companion Animal Rating System” will be similar to rating systems put in place for restaurants, and will rate both the store and the breeders that the stores get their puppies from. They could also be rated on other factors ranging from the quality of food the dogs are fed and the cleanliness of the store to the employee to animal ratio.
“I think this is a way to use consumer education and market forces as a way to steer people towards reputable pet stores that are supplied by responsible breeders and away from disreputable pet stores that are being supplied by puppy mills,” Cooper said.
This will be the nation’s first rating system for pet stores.
Cooper hopes to introduce the proposal during legislative meetings on either August 2 or August 16. He is welcoming suggestions and recommendations regarding the criteria for the system.
So far Cooper says the response has been positive from both animal rights groups and from pet store owners.
“I’m very excited about the fact that I’m able to get people who before were on opposite sides to think that this is a really interesting idea.”