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'Puppy Mill' Bill Targets Pet Stores

Advocates trying to crack down on 'puppy mills' support the legislation.

Pet stores would have to do more do to reveal the origins of the puppies they sell and would have to reimburse customers for vet costs if the puppy they buy becomes unexpectedly ill, according to legislation being considered in the Maryland House of Delegates this month.

The legislation comes following a controversy in Columbia regarding a new pet store, , which opened in January and sells luxury pet goods, as well as puppies. Animal shelters advocates and other about the store, saying plenty of shelter animals need homes, and pet store animals often come from puppy mills.

Charm City Puppies owners have not commented, but national pet industry groups said they are working to crack down on substandard breeders, and say quality pet stores and breeders are the norm.

“Extreme groups like to say, 'Well any pet store puppy is a puppy mill puppy,'’’ said Michael Maddox, vice president of governmental affairs and the general counsel for the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, which represents the pet industry.

“The fact of the matter is, quality pet stores and quality breeders are the norm, and not the exception, and they abhor the substandard breeders as much as anyone else,” he added. “It gives them a bad name. We want these bad folks out of business.”

Republican Del. Nicholaus Kipke, of Anne Arundel County, is the lead sponsor of  House Bill 131, which would require retail pet stores that sell dogs to post documents on each dog’s cage naming the breeder or the facility where the dog was born, the USDA license number of the breeder, along with other identifying information.

Kipke was in a committee meeting Wednesday and was unable to answer questions on the bill.

Retail pet stores would also be required to maintain written records for at least one year after the dog is sold.

The bills supporters include the Humane Society of the United States.

Tami Santelli, the Maryland director of the Humane Society, said the bill aims to help consumers, because “almost all puppies sold in pet stores come from puppy mills.”

“Responsible breeders don’t sell to puppy stores,” she said. “Oftentimes, puppies are taken from mothers when they are young and susceptible to diseases. [They are] transported to puppy stores, people buy them, and then a few days later they get sick. Months later, they get a congential issue--sometimes they die.”

The bill would also offer protections for consumers who buy puppies from retail stores and face veterinary costs after the puppies get unexpectedly ill.

Pet stores would be be required to provide a written agreement to the customer who purchases the dog identifying any illness or diseases the dog has and disclosing if the dog hadn’t received any veterinary treatment.

Also, the stores could be required to reimburse veterinary fees after a certain time period that could not exceed three times the purchase price of the dog, according to the bill.

Maddox, with the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, said his organization supports the concept of the bill, and said good pet stores already post information and keep detailed records on the animals they buy and sell.

Members are concerned about the proposed warranty that would require pet stores to pay up to three times the cost of the animal in veterinary fees.

“It would put a lot of pet dealers out of business,” he said.

He said they do support the concept behind some veterinary cost reimbursements.

“We support the idea of giving pet owners an alternative,” he said. “They can either bring the dog back, or they can bring the dog back and exchange it, or they can keep the dog and get reimbursed for vet fees. It’s their choice, and we support that concept.”

CAW21227 February 02, 2012 at 11:25 AM
There are tens of thousands of puppies and dogs languishing in shelters all over the US. If you want a puppy go to a shelter or find a rescue group.. ADOPT- DON"T SHOP. No puppy should be sold in a pet store, I don't care where it comes from. There should be a ten year moratorium placed on the breeding of dogs (yes, even the pure breds). Maybe then the population of unwanted, mistreated homeless dogs will become manageable to the point that thousands will not have to be euthanized at kill shelters on a daily basis to make room for more.
Gina February 02, 2012 at 08:46 PM
I couldn't agree more! People go to stores because they think they can't find specific breeds and that couldn't be farther from the truth. You can find a rescue for any breed you are looking for and just because you get a dog/cat from a rescue doesn't mean they will be mean. Most rescue dogs are the sweetest and just want to be loved! I have an American Bulldog that we got from a rescue, we've had her for 4yrs now and she is awesome with kids, she is even around my daycare kids! We have a Yorkie that we got from a rescue who was a prior puppy mill dog who spent the first 2yrs of her life locked in a cage in a shed, she never touched the grass. When we got her she had only been out of the mill for less then a month and she too is the sweetest and most loveable dog ever! We also have a Shih-tzu that we got from a rescue and he is the same way! Getting a dog from a store or breeder doesn't mean their health will be any better then from the pound or a rescue. And more then likely if it's a matter of cost you are going to pay way more money at a breeder or store then you would adopting from the pound or a rescue and again the more you spend does not mean better health!
etbmfa February 02, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Totally untrue - go read Nathan Winograds book "Redemption, the Myth of Pet Overpopulation". There are three problems - lack of owner responsibility, shelter mismanagement and poor pet distribution. Check out the NAIA Shelter Project for accurate and truthful stats on shelters - www.naiaonline.org
Ron Wise February 03, 2012 at 12:31 AM
Our Shih Tzu is a rescue from a puppy mill. She had outlived her usefulness as a breeder and would have been put down if a rescue group hadn't saved her. She's a gem and an important part of our family. As for suing shops where a sick pet was purchased? I don't think they should be summarily charged triple. They should pay the sale price plus whatever the purchaser paid in vet fees. Could be more or less.
Ann February 03, 2012 at 12:48 AM
If a puppy is sold ill, or becomes ill within 2-3 days, the puppy should be returned and the pet shop should refund the money. But to fine a pet shop three times the price is unfair. Puppies get illnesses in the best circumstances. Genetic diseases can pop up after generations of no occurrence. No one can guarantee the health a year after purchase. Improper care, improper nutrition, exposing the puppy to situations without vaccinations being completed, there are many reasons a puppy can get sick that are NOT the seller's fault. Just as with human children, things happen.
Dottie Everett February 03, 2012 at 01:18 AM
Ithink shelters that sell, (adopt) dogs andcats should be covered by this law too. You can get a sick dog or cat from a shelter as well as a pet shop.
Gina February 03, 2012 at 01:38 AM
etbmfa - I don't know what part your stating is untrue. I checked the website you posted and don't see anything specific on stats for kill shelters but I can assure you there ARE thousands killed, maybe not "daily" but I would be willing to bet a cross the country it is pretty close to monthly. I deal with a lot of rescues on the west coast and along the gulf and most shelters in those areas are kill shelters and perfectly healthy pets are killed daily to make room for more that are being dumped every day.
Gina February 03, 2012 at 01:43 AM
Dottie the point of charging these shops is because they are "knowingly" selling over bred dogs and knowingly buying these dogs from shady breeders and puppy mills. Most dogs/cats at shelters are either strays, drop & run, or drop & lies. Shelters have no way of knowing the history of a pet they are adopting out therefor do not fall in the same catagory as a shop.
Terry February 03, 2012 at 01:47 AM
There should be all information attached to the cage at the pet store. This is includes this includes the USDA license number, you can then check to see if its a puppy mill or violations. What happens to the returned puppy--do they return it to the puppy mill for credit or put it to sleep? Your not returning a shirt at a dept. store! I adopted a dog from the Humane Society, the owner had purchased him from a pet store. He had all of his papers, breeder, photos of his parents, birthday and breeders name and license #. I checked the USDA website and the breeder--no complaints. Call me lucky, this dog is great and healthy. Let the buyer beware!
Time4Dogs February 03, 2012 at 05:22 PM
The definition of "congenital" means a condition you are born with. Your don't "develop" a congenital condition months after birth. And plenty of shelter animals have health issues. Not to mention the fact that plenty of shelters and "rescues" import dogs from other states and from foreign puppy mills....because we have a shortage of adoptable dogs here in many area of the US. Leave it to the Humane Society of the US to spread lies and misinformation as they defraud the public out of the cash in their wallets.
KC February 03, 2012 at 05:49 PM
A ten year moratorium on breeding of dogs? WOW, either you are completely ignorant of dogs or you believe in the exstinction of domestic dogs. If one started today that means in ten years the only dogs we'd have would be 9 years old and too old to breed. Now that is the answer to so called over population, no more dogs. You must be one of those people that believe that one dog is over population.
KC February 03, 2012 at 05:54 PM
A ten year moratorium on breeding of dogs? WOW, either you are completely ignorant of dogs or you believe in the exstinction of domestic dogs. If one started today that means in ten years the only dogs we'd have would be at the youngest 9 years old and too old to breed. Now that is the answer to so called over population, no more dogs. You must be one of those people that believe that one dog is over population.
lowell1 February 03, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Do shelters provide any health information on a pet? ANY? If it is important to provide the consumer with information regarding a product (which is what a purchased pet is, be it bought from breeder, store or shelter), then it is UNIFORMLY important. Otherwise, what's happening is one group is trying to have a competitive edge over another. Pet stores should be required to provide reasonable information about their products -- so should shelters. Pet stores should be required to provide some reasonable health -- innoculations, and examination options for buyers -- AND so should shelters. And yes, a "return policy" that is reasonable is something that customers of BOTH shelters and pet stores would appreciate. Shelters & rescues have been known to import animals not only from other states, but other countries. Instead of insisting there is a "population problem", providing people with education on training, management and the ability to find homes which allow pets would do far more to eliminate the RETENTION problem. We also need to recognize that there will always be some unwanted pets -- and stop punishing the entire animal owning population because of it.
Ron Wise February 03, 2012 at 07:48 PM
All very true.
Ron Wise February 03, 2012 at 07:51 PM
Totally misinformed.
Gina February 03, 2012 at 09:15 PM
That is the most obsurd thing I have ever heard of. How many rescues have you ever worked with??? How many selters have you ever been too?? If you went you would know where the dogs come from. Each animal in a shelter is labeled how it got there. If the animal is a stray how do you think they should go about finding out the history??? If the animal is just dropped off again how do they go about finding the history??? Most people that turn their pepts over to the shelters don't give the honest truth and if they were required to have a sworn statement of history then they would just throw them on the streets and then we are still in the same situation as strays and not knowing anything. Non-kill shelters are the only shelters that might relocated animals to another non-kill shelter and that is based on demand for a specific breed it is far from to make a buck it's to save the life of a pet. In Cali due to the fad of having small breeds or "purse dogs" their shelters are over flowing with small chi's, yorkies, maltese & shih-tzus and have been know to send them to other shelters where the demand is big for those dogs. Adopting one of those dogs from a shelter is the same as adopting a mutt $75 buying one of those dogs from a pet store or from a private person is anywhere from $750-$1000 so who is looking to fill their pockets???? Rescues do the same by moving them to where they need to be so they don't end up dead. There is NO money to be made in shelters or rescues!
Gina February 03, 2012 at 09:26 PM
Most rescues are made up of people that do it for the love of the animals, and when you adopt from a rescue they do give a history of what they know about the pet and some do reimburse for out of pocket expenses if the pet gets sick in a certain amount of time. If a Pet store or Breeder has nothing to hide then they should have no problem giving information on where they get their pets from. This law isn't designed for the responsible breeders or pet stores this is designed for the shady ones. As far as training goes most repidable rescues do screen adopters. All 3 of our dogs were adopted from Rescues, 2 were local but one was in Northern PA and she had to drive 4hrs one way just to meet with us. This was after we had to supply her with vet info so they could verify that we stay up to date on our other pets and they did verify cause our vet called and told us. Shelters also have a screening process. However breeders & pet stores do not, they are both the ONLY place you can walk in off the street and walk out with a dog 5 minutes later............again who is in the market for making money???? Exactly!
KC February 03, 2012 at 10:51 PM
Skewed views abound here. First of all the $750. - $1000. is gross not net. That means that figure is before a breeder deducts their expenses which include health tests, vet visits, food, employees, bedding, cleaning materials, costs for competition to prove the breed etc. A small breeder makes 0 money from a litter and do not produce enough to supply the demand. A large commercial breeder has similar expenses but have litters in volume that help absord some of those costs so they can eke out a living. Business experts say if you can turn a passion into a business that is what is ideal. These large kennels passion is dogs and bringing puppies into the world. Only large kennels can produce enough to meet the demands. Ann is correct that puppies can get illnesses in the best of circumstances. Buying a dog from a shelter is riskier than buying from a breeder situation. Time4Dogs is also correct that shelters and rescues import dogs from other countries frequently. An ethical shelter is NOT going to import the more popular breeds that sell quickly while putting down slower selling type dogs to make money and to continue the myth of over populaton and high (un-necessay) kill rates. And above all it is totally unethical for shelters to import dogs from other countries while condemning breeders in this country.
Ron Wise February 04, 2012 at 12:58 AM
Can you please supply the source of your information? I'm still sceptical about the statement that shelters import dogs and that there is no over-population. Thanks.
KC February 04, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Here is one, but you can google and find many www.potcakeplace.com
Ron Wise February 06, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Potcake Place handles only Potcake dogs from the Islands. That is certainly their prerogative. I can't find evidence that local shelters or The Humane Soc. imports from out of the country. Bringing pups from Nebraska, where there is an overpopulation, to the East Coast, where there is not, hardly qualifies as "importing". http://naiaonline.org/articles/archives/shifting_dogs.htm
holly February 11, 2012 at 01:21 AM
sure, there are no problems with puppy mills anymore: http://www.usda.gov/oig/webdocs/33002-4-SF.pdf
Julianne StarMonkey Stammer Brown February 14, 2012 at 12:32 AM
Recently, two members of ReLove Animals Inc. visited Charm City Puppies. The following includes the facts from that visit. On February 5 at 11:29 a.m., Tony Cossentino stated in response to The Sun's article ..."As the owner of this store, I would encourage customers who are curious to come in to the store and visit directly. We will gladly set the record straight on any questions you may have about us and our puppies. We might just change your mind about what you think of puppy stores. I will not respond further on this forum because it is too easy for certain individuals to bully us online with unfounded things that they would never say to our faces. None of the opposition has even visited the store to see for themselves, not even the leader. Please search 'Charm City Puppies' on Facebook for more information. Thanks, we love you Charm City!" We visited the store on Thursday, February 9th. The store is lovely and clean, with a nice variety of products. The puppies were cute and seemed relatively happy in their cribs. Part 1 (cont)
Julianne StarMonkey Stammer Brown February 14, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Upon arrival at the store, we first spoke with Jackie Cossentino, one of the owners, who later called her husband Tony to the store for further discussion. We discussed the public's concern about the puppies coming from puppy mills and asked for their list of breeders. Tony refused to give us the information but said he would give it to anyone else. If that is information you are interested in, please visit the store. They did say that they get their puppies from a broker, The Hunte Corporation located in Goodman, Missouri. We tried to discuss a humane business model that many pet stores in the country are transitioning to, one which only adopts out puppies or dogs that are in shelters or rescues, but the owners of Charm City Puppies were not interested. We would welcome the opportunity at any time in the future to once again sit down and discuss this business model with them. We are pursuing our plans to have educational demonstrations in order to educate the public on puppy mills, what they are, and that almost all pet store puppies come from puppy mills (according to several national animal welfare organizations). We are excited to report that we have been in contact with other pet stores who are willing to sit down and learn about a humane business model. One of them is very interested in transitioning to not selling puppies and instead only offering rescues for adoption. We will keep you updated on the progress we are making. Part 2 (cont)
Julianne StarMonkey Stammer Brown February 14, 2012 at 12:33 AM
For more updates on our upcoming educational demonstrations, links regarding pet stores, puppy mills, and animal welfare, and other ongoing developments please join our Facebook page 'ReLove Animals Inc.' Part 3

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