In a crushing blow to puppy mills and their pet store sales outlets, New York just became the sixth state in the U.S. to prohibit the sale of puppies in pet stores. Dozens of puppy-selling pet stores—about 10% of all such stores in the nation—currently operate in New York, and they’ll have to convert to a humane business model.

The bi-partisan, overwhelming support from New York lawmakers (the bill passed the Senate 57-5 and the Assembly 133-16) to stop the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores is a testament to the thousands of New Yorkers who demanded their elected officials stand up for what is right for both animals and the public. We are grateful to Gov. Kathy Hochul for signing the Puppy Mill Pipeline Bill and to Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal and Sen. Michael Gianaris for championing it in their respective chambers.

This good news furthers the paradigm shift happening across the country that turns away from viewing pets as commodities. Earlier this month, Clark County, Nevada, passed a local ordinance prohibiting the sale of dogs, cats, rabbits and potbellied pigs in pet stores, a big win considering it will stop 13 pet stores from selling puppy mill puppies. With the New York bill becoming law, laws enacted in 2022 alone will require an estimated 100 stores to change their business model away from selling puppies and kittens, often sourced from cruel mills.

For years, we’ve exposed the cruelty that New York pet stores perpetuate. Sportsman’s Kennels, a massive breeder and pet store located on Long Island, appeared in this year’s Horrible Hundred report of problem puppy mills. Earlier this year, it was cited by the state for strong odors, contaminated water and decrepit conditions. Additional breeders featured in the Horrible Hundred 2022 sold puppies to New York pet stores.

We obtained public records showing that at least 25 New York pet stores bought puppies from Daniel Gingerich, one of the worst known puppy mills in history. In 2021, Gingerich accumulated over 120 animal welfare violations for filthy conditions and dogs who were dead, sick, injured, emaciated and heat distressed. This “shocking cruelty” led to the first federal indictment of a commercial breeder for Animal Welfare Act violations and to Gingerich settling with the Department of Justice, agreeing to relinquish all 500 dogs.

Federal inspectors photographed dogs suffering at Daniel Gingerich’s U.S. Department of Agriculture-licensed puppy mill in Iowa that sold to dozens of pet stores. Inspectors found many sick or injured dogs and some dead puppies on the property on different dates in 2021.

The cruelty, unfortunately, doesn’t stop at the puppy mill. Late last year, we released a heartbreaking investigation of one of the largest pet stores in New York City, American Kennels. Our investigator found sick and dying puppies, at least one puppy who died in the store, filthy conditions and large-breed puppies cramped into tiny cages. The store now appears to be permanently closed. And, in 2017, we found similar conditions at a Manhattan pet store called Chelsea Kennel Club. The store’s owners were eventually fined approximately $4 million for failing to provide proper care to sick dogs and for knowingly selling sick puppies to the public, and the store permanently closed.

We’ve long argued that we can’t investigate or rescue our way out of the puppy mill problem. That’s why laws like the one that New York just enacted are so crucial. They acknowledge that there is no humane or consumer-friendly way to sell weeks-old puppies at retail and that the whole pipeline is too broken to repair.

Those looking to add a new pet to their family should adopt from a shelter or rescue or seek out a responsible breeder who only sells puppies directly to the public and proudly shows the conditions the parent dogs live in.

New York joins Illinois, Maryland, Maine, Washington, California and over 440 localities in enacting this humane policy. We’ve come a long way and the momentum is on our side. While we celebrate this victory we’re gearing up for more fights in other states and key cities and counties across the country. We won’t stop until puppy mills have nowhere left to sell.

Follow Kitty Block on Twitter @HSUSKittyBlock.