A push to ban puppy mills is gaining momentum in Amherst, where some local lawmakers are looking to make state history.
If a proposed law passes, Amherst will be the first community in New York State to pass a ban on puppy mills by not allowing pet stores to sell puppies unless they come from a shelter or non-profit agency. Currently, there is only one pet store in the town that this law would affect.
For 23 years, Steve Lane has been selling puppies at Steve’s Wonderful World of Pets.
“I have a buyer that has veterinarians on staff. He goes out and he inspects the breeders, and he buys the dogs from the breeders, and he checks them and houses them for a week. And then he brings them to me,” Lane said.
But how he gets his puppies may soon have to change.
Amherst Town Councilman Mark Manna said, “I’m hoping that the only dogs allowed for sale at retail locations are truly the dogs that need a forever home, ones that come from a rescue organization or non-profit, or county municipal shelters.”
The law is currently in the drafting stages. Animal activists went before the Amherst Town Board with concerns about not only the puppies, but the animals’ parents.
“Dogs are bred constantly, repeatedly. They have a range of movement of about two feet,” said Matt Albert of WNY Citizens Against Puppy Mills.
Another activist said, “They can’t walk. They can’t turn around. They’re never removed from that cage.”
Others say that though they support shelters, businesses should not be forced to only offer rescue dogs.
One man told the board, “The government should not be telling what they should buy or where they should buy. What’s next? You have to buy a certain type of car?”
Lane sold 800 puppies at his store last year and says he buys from a reputable dealer.
“We buy from quality, inspected, qualified ethical breeders throughout the country,” he said. “When I first moved to Buffalo, I was hoping to do puppies with the SPCA, and they wouldn’t do it primarily because there was a shortage of puppies. They didn’t have enough.”
But that is little comfort to those looking to get this law banning puppy mills passed.
One woman told the board, “Pet stores that don’t sell puppies in Western New York, they make a profit, so they don’t have to sell puppies.”
Councilman Manna says the new law will not have any grandfather clauses, meaning it will be applied to all pet dealers in Amherst. He expects the process to take several months.