The Midwest-to-LI Puppy Trail

Why "born local" is vital and how we can help ensure a healthier future for dogs everywhere

In my last blog, I explained what a puppy mill is and that our pet stores use the USDA as a stamp of approval. I’ll start this blog with two facts from the previous one: USDA puppy mills are, by definition, animal neglect, often criminal cruelty; and, pet stores knowingly sell the offspring of puppy mills. The good news is that there is already a New York State senate bill just waiting for us that will end the cycle.    

First a bit of math  

One local pet store, for example, boasts over a thousand puppies sold in about a year. There are 8-10 puppy sellers in Huntington, over 30 in Nassau/Suffolk and about 300 in the state (NYS Ag & Markets licensed pet dealer list). Let's assume about 300,000 puppies sold each year, most from out-of-state mills, the remainder from what are called backyard breeders with no oversight whatsoever.  

The math does not show that half will be sick, most will have treatable parasites, and some will even die. In addition, that is about 300,000 dogs not being adopted from shelters or purchased from reputable local breeders. Breeders who would never sell a dog without a home visit and will have the puppy parents on site for you to meet. Remember shop local? In the case of puppies, please make it born local.     

USDA rules last updated in 1966

People who luck out and buy a healthy puppy focus on the puppy, not its parents. They would be upset to learn that every purchase keeps the breeding parents caged for life. They are not even fed daily by humans, the requirement is that feeders must be checked twice monthly. Crazy, right? Well, puppy parents suffer under 45-year-old USDA livestock rules, which are often not followed. These Vietnam-era regulations are loosely enforced by 60 inspectors for the Western half of the US and 60 for the East. They have over 6,000 research facilities, zoos, puppy mills, etc, to inspect each year. A 2010 report from the US Inspector General proves they can’t properly do this job and it has certainly not gotten any better. 

Of course, this is invisible on Long Island, where we only see adorable puppies. NYS records show that the majority of our supply is shipped in from Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Tennessee. No farm state elected official is going to vote against a sure profit at the federal or state level. There is no incentive to change and no consequences for violators. The USDA doesn’t have the authority to shut down even the worst mills. Some states do not even regulate mills, others avoid enforcement and sanctions because the mills are in their election districts. It's up to us to tell NY no more.

Enter S1262A 

Without boring you too much, S1262A is a NYS Senate bill that would give local governments in our state the right to regulate pet dealers. We are one of a handful of states without local choice. It would let us “preempt” our own lax state laws that are also poorly enforced by too few inspectors. 

The 1000-selling puppy store above, for example, bought some of their Christmas pups from one breeder with six major USDA violations, another with two. A 2011 undercover Humane Society of the United States investigation showed even worse – it bought from some of infamous Missouri ‘dirty dozen,’ the twelve worst mills in the state. The owner, like every other pet store owner in the country, tells everyone he hates puppy mills. NYS records and the HSUS show otherwise. Again, no consequences because not enough of us know this goes on. Lies, cruelty and the puppy business sounds like bad fiction, not documented fact.

What you can do

If our state senators knew we wanted S1262A, they would bring it to a vote. We need all residents who think this is wrong to call or email their state senator, (click here for a list), and tell them to vote yes on S1262A. Let us stop puppy mill abuse at the point of purchase. We can’t change laws at the source. We want to say no more mill puppies in Suffolk, or Huntington, or even New York City.

Let us join Los Angeles, Hallandale Beach, Hoboken, and a growing number of municipalities across the country banning the retail sale of pets because of puppy mill suppliers. Tell your state senator to vote yes on S1262A and give us the choice. 

Do not shop where puppies or kittens are sold. Also, never buy online – that is a topic for another day, but the mills that don’t meet outdated USDA guidelines are allowed to sell over the internet. 

If you must shop where puppies or kittens are sold, ask the owner about going humane, which is what PetSmart, Petco and a lot of pet supply stores do. They host adoption events for local shelters.

Read the following to learn more:




This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Ron January 27, 2013 at 03:20 PM
Why is using dogs for breeding in the Midwest any different than the breeders here on Long Island? They all do this for the same result - profit. Are you really going to tell me that Mr.Smith in Smithtown breeding bulldogs treats his dogs any better than Mrs.Jones in Ames,Iowa? Please.
SaveThemAll January 27, 2013 at 05:36 PM
Clearly you missed the entire point of the article Ron. You're one of those ignorant LI'ers spoken about. Read it again and again...do some research and maybe, just maybe, you will GET IT.
Bill L. January 27, 2013 at 05:53 PM
you sound like a local breeder trying to guilt potential dog buyers to your door...tsk tsk
Kristie M January 27, 2013 at 06:27 PM
Bill, I am not a local breeder by any means. I'm all about shelters and adoption personally, but understand some people, for any number of reasons, would not or could not adopt from a shelter or breed rescue group. They will buy a dog. If I ignore that, I'm doing them and the actual good local breeders a disservice. They care about their animals enough to do their homework, not just ask a few cursory questions and send a puppy to God knows what fate. I am completely against breeding any kind of pits or chihuahuas as there are purebreds being killed in droves at shelters. If you click on any of these links or read into it more, you'll see why I write. I'm not making a dime on dogs. In fact, my two shelter mutts are getting by on their great looks and charming personalities in lieu of rent.
Ginny January 28, 2013 at 03:53 PM
Very well written and well-reasoned article. Can you please provide us a link to the legislation so we can read it ourselves?
Kristie M January 28, 2013 at 04:04 PM
Thanks Ginny! Here's the link: http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S1262A-2011 The reason this is so important here is that none of our Long Island senators are in favor of this bill. They all say they are against puppy mills, then propose piecemeal legislation that will never take care of the root problem. They are beholden to an industry lobby group that I will address in a later blog, the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC). The poor dogs are victims of ridiculously complex greed-fueled groups. Thank you so much for the interest.
Ginny January 28, 2013 at 04:26 PM
Thank you, Kristie, for the link and for your work on this important issue. I'll send an email to my State Senator asking him to support this bill.
mom January 31, 2013 at 05:43 PM
Great news. I wrote an op ed about this in newsday a few years ago. At the time, Suffolk Legislator Jon Cooper was trying to get a bill through that would ban the sale of puppies at stores in Suffolk (this is the case in several municipalities across the country). The NY state law pre-empted him from even proposing the bill. I see dogs rescued from puppy mills all the time (I work at a rescue organization) and if anyone ever saw these dogs, they could never ever buy a pet again. I know small, responsible breeders do exist, but I still recommend adoption and saving a life. If you do choose to buy, definitely only buy from someone who wants to personally meet you, show you the parents, and let you see the dogs. USDA certification and AKC papers mean nothing.
Kristie M February 01, 2013 at 05:20 PM
Amish puppy mill owner shocked at arrest for animal cruelty. Mill owner shot nine healthy puppies because they couldn't sell them. Three Ss - shoot, shovel, shut up - normal business practices: http://www.examiner.com/article/new-york-amish-men-charged-with-killing-healthy-puppies-and-their-mother Amish own over 25% of all puppy mills supplying your local pet store. Buying keeps them in business!! Jenna, please start writing for S1262A! Thank you.
FYI February 01, 2013 at 11:20 PM
Why not list the names of the pet stores on Long Island that you are referring to? It would be good to know who they are so that we can choose whether to patronize them or perhaps influence where their puppies are purchased. If they try to intimidate you, I'm certain you would have enough community support to close them down. Be strong and publish who these local companies are.
Kristie M February 02, 2013 at 05:15 AM
The HSUS and ASPCA have been investigating for years and concluded that ALL pet stores buy from puppy mills. There was a Nov. 2011 HSUS investigation into NY/LI pet stores that can be found online. The just published the same for Chicago. It is the same everywhere, which is why the retail sale of puppies and kittens is being banned. In addition, NYS records can be requested (called FOIL) and they always show puppy mills as the source. If the parents of the puppy are not on site for you to meet, it is a puppy mill or an unregulated backyard breeder. S1262A is the legislation that will help us ban the retail sales. As you know, no pet store on LI will go broke if they stop selling puppies! People spend a fortune on their pets, there is grooming, daycare, pet gifts, etc. In other words, no reason to profit from inhumane puppy mills. I would prefer to go at this from the education/legislation angle, not calling out store by store. The bigger picture will provide much better results in the long run. In a future blog, I will explain demonstrations at various pet stores on LI and around the country in concert with the push for better regulations.
FYI February 04, 2013 at 04:56 PM
ALL pet stores buy from puppy mills? I have trouble with this and while I believe in your cause, the larger offenders should be named and let the public pressure work NOW, and not wait for legislation which can drag on forever to take effect. If you can cite your sources with links, it would really be helpful in generating more support and interest. Thanks!
Kristie M February 05, 2013 at 02:48 AM
Amish puppy mill bust on Animal Cops: Philadelphia. The Amish own 25% of all USDA-licensed mills. This was a PA state-licensed center of cruelty and neglect. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWVkV6mZ3rw&playnext=1&list=PLtGzMBzTtjpzbiqtLq81Eplvnp3VgRhBz&feature=results_video For a USDA-licensed horror story that is not atypical, read about the Amish man who killed 93 dogs with a homemade gas chamber. He saw nothing wrong it and showed the USDA inspector. it's chalked up to life on the farm. Non-Amish mill owners are no different. These are breeders and products, not dogs and puppies. http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/pets/NY_kennel_owner_admits_gassing_93_dogs_with_farm_engine.html
Kristie M February 05, 2013 at 02:50 AM
N'prtr, here are some puppy mill and LI/NY pet stores links. They all say they hate mills, but records and breeder names prove otherwise. http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/New-York-Pet-Stores-Supplied-by-Puppy-Mills-Humane-Society-133586508.html http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Na3O-ONRJtA http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/puppy_mills/facts/pet_store_doublespeak.html Keep in mind, the results are the same whether it is California, Chicago, Texas, anywhere. It's a huge, hidden blight on our society.
FYI February 05, 2013 at 04:47 PM
Very depressing to watch and realize that human beings can treat these poor defenseless animals so poorly. What would be the best resource to obtain an actual list of pet stores known to be selling these dogs? You must have access to this information, correct? Also, what's the best way to get involved and help in addition to writing to state officials?
Kristie M February 05, 2013 at 06:09 PM
Puppies are bought and sold all the time from different mills and from middlemen, actually called puppy brokers. The ASPCA list is just one of all pet stores selling puppies or kittens because they agree with the HSUS that they all buy from mills. It make sense to boycott the bigger pet sellers first. There is a a group I found last summer when I was hunting for information called the Companion Animal Protection Society and a number of people who actually demostrate in front of pet stores. I can't provide my personal info on this site, but please visit www.caps-web.org or look on Facebook for a few activist groups: "Make It Illegal to Sell Dogs/Puppies" or "NYS Citizens Against Puppy Mills." Either of these will lead you to people who demonstrate locally, push letter writing campaigns to Simon Mall, for example, to protest the opening of a new pet store there and just telling everyone you know about this. I really appreciate your taking the time on this! Trust me it will make a huge difference if S1262A is passed. In the meantime, education, letter-writing and not patronizing pet sellers are the best avenues. It's tedious, yes, but does build.
holly February 13, 2013 at 02:58 AM
Kristy I posted on the KP patch in response to what you wrote about the puppy store opening at Smithhaven mall. I just finished a book a few days ago called "Saving Gracie " a story about a dog that survived the horrors of a puppy mill . People don't realize how cruel - truly cruel the treatment of these poor defenseless animals is . I will follow your link to encourage this bill. Although I have always known about puppy mills, this book would make most people just horrified at the harsh reality of the treatment the puppies endure . Thanks for putting it out there .
Jazzy April 09, 2013 at 03:08 AM
I totallyagree that puppy mills are horribly cruel and would never buy a puppy from a pet store. But would you please think about the life of that chicken, cow or pig before you eat it? We love our dogs in this country but all animals deserve our compassion. If you must eat meat buy it local too and from a farm where you know the animals are at least treated humanely before they are slaughtered.
Kristie M April 09, 2013 at 12:45 PM
I'm glad this is still being read and I agree 100% with you, Jazzy. I do eat meat and dairy but make sure it is at least free-range, if not organic. I don't even eat restaurant omelets anymore because of battery cages. Many people think even that is cruel and I understand that position, too. My personal belief is that humans have always hunted, just as other animals hunt each other. The least we can do is ensure our food had the same quality of life as it would have in a natural setting. Farmers don't want puppy mills in the news because they know their hideous factory farming of livestock will be next.


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