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New York pet stores won't be allowed to sell cats, dogs or bunnies starting in 2024

A rabbit in hay
Bondar Viktor/bondvit -
A rabbit sitting in hay.

Pet stores in New York, starting in 2024, will no longer be able to sell dogs, cats, and rabbits under a bill signed into law Thursday by Gov. Kathy Hochul.

The new law will also allow store owners to charge rent to shelters who want to place adoptable pets in their stores, according to the legislation.

The aim of the bill has been to prevent breeding practices viewed as abusive, like keeping animals in confined spaces and owning them for the sole purpose of producing offspring for sale.

It’s been a long-sought priority for Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, a Democrat from Manhattan who’s known in part for her passion around animal-related issues.

“New York State will no longer allow brutally inhumane puppy mills around the country to supply our pet stores and earn a profit off animal cruelty and unsuspecting consumers,” Rosenthal said.

“By ending the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores, shelters and rescues will be able to partner with these stores to showcase adoptable animals and place them into forever homes.”

The bill was sponsored in the State Senate by Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris, a Democrat from Queens.

Pet store owners have warned that the change will harm their industry, and force some to close permanently. The bill also wouldn’t prevent inhumane practices by out-of-state breeders, they’ve said.

They also warned Thursday that the law could create a stronger illicit market for pet sales, where breeders deal directly with consumers instead of using a pet store as a go-between.

“By ending licensed and regulated local pet stores, New York State is effectively removing the people who vet breeders, insure the health of newly homed pets with established veterinarians, and guarantee the success of a new pet family,” said Jessica Selmer, president of People United to Protect Pet Integrity, a group representing pet stores.

The new law will take effect in the beginning of 2024.

Dan Clark is managing editor of New York NOW.