Featured Story

Town Board likely to vote on ‘puppy mill’ law at Oct. 5 meeting

The Riverhead Town Board plans to vote on a proposal to ban the sale of commercially bred dogs, cats and rabbits by pet stores, according to Supervisor Yvette Aguiar, who said the public hearing is now closed.

The vote will likely take place at the board’s Oct. 5 meeting.

The board heard many comments — pro and con — at a Sept. 8 hearing on the proposal. Additional speakers addressed the board at Tuesday night’s meeting. Most of the comments Tuesday were in favor of banning the sale of commercially bred dogs, cats and rabbits by pet stores. 

Supporters said this would break the “puppy mill pipeline.”

The Humane Society, an animal protection organization, defines a puppy mill as “an inhumane high-volume dog breeding facility that churns out puppies for profit, ignoring the needs of the pups and their mothers.”

Town Attorney Bob Kozakiewicz has previously said there was no recent event or incident that led to the proposal.

“It’s something we’ve been looking at for a while in code revision,” he said. “There has been kind of a movement that we’re aware of in which other jurisdictions have adopted similar legislation aimed at trying to put some limits on the puppy mill scenario.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, Tina Kingsepp of Lake Ronkonkoma said she is tired of seeing the same news stories about people buying dogs who become sick. 

She urged the board to adopt the proposal. 

Jonane Cave of Nesconset said she hopes the Town Board doesn’t “grandfather” existing pet stores. She said five states have approved similar laws and others are considering it.

Town officials say there are only two pet shops in town that would be effected by the proposal.

Keith Lewin, the owner of Puppy Experience in Aquebogue, said at the hearing that he is already heavily regulated. Representatives of Sportsman’s Kennel in Calverton, the other pet shop in Riverhead Town, did not attend the hearing.

Keri Michel of Puppy Mill Free Long Island said the federal government is cutting back on inspections and “they’ve been instructed to give ‘teachable moments’ in which abuse is never publicly recorded nor any penalties given. The USDA also decided they will no longer require breeders to renew their license annually, but instead every three years. Yet we keep hearing from those that profit from the industry on how ‘highly regulated and well enforced’ they are.”

She said she printed the last three years of inspections for both Puppy Experience and Sportsman’s Kennels and that five of the six were critically failed inspections. One was a general fail.

The state Department of Agriculture and Market has pet dealer inspection records online dating back 15 years.

For Sportsman’s Kennels, there were 15 reports, of which 11 were “compliant”, three were “non-compliant critical” and one was “non-compliant general.”

For Puppy Experience, there were 16 reports, of which 10 were “compliant,” two that were “non-compliant critical,” two that were “non-compliant general,” and two that were “pending.”