It’s been a banner week for dogs in New York. Tuesday saw the indictment of 39-year-old Leslie Alexander, who had been using his Brownsville home to train dogs to fight in the very cruel, very illegal dog-fighting circuit. (The cops initially went there on a warrant for guns and drugs and instead found a robust dog-fighting operation, including hypodermic needles and a garage-turned-doggie-Thunderdome, so it’s pretty clear that this guy is making excellent choices.)
And on Wednesday the New York State Assembly passed A.740-A, a bill to majorly ramp up laws punishing operators of puppy mills introduced by Upper West Side Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. The Senate is considering its version of the bill.
I’m the sort of person who cries watching puppies sleep, but even those of us with firmer constitutions will appreciate the good news.
Good news, because the problem is way more pervasive than infrequent stories of horrific animal abuse. The majority of those cute little fuzzballs staring at you through pet shop windows are bred in puppy mills, shorthand for the overcrowded, festering breeding facilities scattered across the country. Only 26 states have laws regulating “commercial kennels,” a lovely little euphemism for barns full of dogs locked in filthy wire cages 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Rosenthal’s bill to tighten up New York state’s preposterously lax dog-breeding regulation–like a $500 fine forgassing over 90 dogs, for example–is tackling the problem in inches. In fact, the law is nowhere close to a panacea for the problem. The most important change it makes is lifting the state’s prohibition on local governments’ regulating breeders.
That’s right, cities and towns in New York are not allowed to exercise themselves to stop this kind of animal abuse without the state government leading the way. If the legislature’s “leadership” on abortion, campaign finance, and medical marijuana this week are any indication, unethical breeders around the state are probably getting in a good belly laugh right about now.
Making it past the Assembly at this point is just symbolic. The Senate still has to pass its version of the bill. Check back here for an update on how the Senate leans on the bill. Thursday is the last day of the session before all our legislators split for summer recess. Let’s hope this cute ponem is enough to get their asses in gear.