Animal Welfare Group, NYS Citizens Against Puppy Mills, Seeks Ban On Retail Dog Sales
VP Deb Gick holds NYS CAPM "spokesdog" and puppy mill survivor, Charlie, a Bichon Frise while Lorry Schlick, President, pets Hannah, a Golden Retreiver, also a puppy mill rescue.
To help dogs receive better treatment and living conditions, a coalition formed last October aims to prevent the sale in stores of dogs that were acquired from puppy mills. Lorry Schlick and Deb Gick, president and vice president, respectively, of Western New York Citizens Against Puppy Mills (NYS CAPM), said the mills, facilities that breed — and often mistreat — hundreds of dogs — are becoming a major problem in the nation. “The dogs are bred and their puppies are sold, and for the most part the dogs [used for breeding] die young,” Schlick said. “The stores near here mainly get their dogs from Midwest puppy mills.” Schlick, an Alden resident, said dogs from mills are often inbred and ill as a result of the poor living conditions provided at the facilities.
Following a considerable amount of research, as well as the purchase of a dog she believes was born in a puppy mill, Schlick said she decided to form the organization to prevent more dogs from being harmed. She also formed the coalition to prevent other people from purchasing puppies that may have been from mills.
Gick, a resident of Snyder, said puppy mills typically sell small dogs that might live outside year-round, are not fed or groomed properly, and are cruelly treated by owners of the facilities. Schlick said instead of buying dogs from retail stores, people should use other resources, such as animal rescues or the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “The vet costs to make these dogs healthy is tremendous, especially for new owners who bought them in a retail store,” she said. “These puppies are often taken from their mothers before they are fully immune.”
While Schlick and Gick have been members of groups that help animals since the 1980s, Gick said puppy mills are becoming an increasing problem, especially in this state. “New York State is second in the selling of puppy mill dogs in pet stores,” Gick said. She and Schlick have been working with town residents as well as Council Member Mark Manna to create awareness of puppy mills as well as seek legislation to ban the retail sale of dogs in pet stores in Amherst. Gick said many dogs sold in stores originated in puppy mills. She said the scenario is as follows:
Dogs at puppy mills breed the puppies. A second party, called a broker, purchases the puppies from the mills and sells them to stores for a profit. The puppies are sold by pet stores, and the price is raised so they can also make a profit.
Schlick said that most times, a puppy sold in a pet store might cost more than double what a reputable breeder would charge and said the organization’s goal is to assist local breeders and make them aware of the group’s presence. She and Gick want reputable breeders to know that they are not the target. “We are not in this to hurt the local, conscientious breeders,” she said. She said they began speaking with Manna about the topic after they noticed he has assisted other community animal welfare groups. “Mark (Manna) really jumped in and got us help right away,” Gick said. “Amherst is a progressive town. It’s just a great place to start.”
Manna said he is glad to be able to assist the organization and feels legislation to ban the sale of dogs in retail stores is not meant to harm local businesses. “This will create more business in Amherst for the hobby breeders,” he said. “The breeders can meet with a prospective buyer, and it’s more humane. This is not meant to put anyone out of business.”
One store in town where dogs are sold is Steve’s Pets, at 5397 Sheridan Drive, between Youngs Road and Evans Street. Its owner, Steve Lane, said he feels targeted by the possible legislation. “The term puppy mill is derogatory,” he said. “Many people think anyone who breeds professionally has a puppy mill.” Lane also said all of the puppies offered at his store are properly licensed and from professional breeders and are inspected by veterinarians and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which sets requirements for the breeders. “I would go to a local breeder if I could. It’s not that no local breeders are qualified, but none are inspected, and I don’t have a system to screen them. I honestly believe I have the best puppies in the area.” Lane also said the USDA’s regulations provide adequate standards for the puppies he purchases to sell in his store.
Manna, however, in an initial draft of a town resolution requesting that the town attorney create a possible local law to ban the retail sale of dogs, said the USDA’s standards are sub-par. “A review of USDA inspections reports from more than 100 breeders who sold animals to the nation’s largest retail pet store chain revealed that more than 60 percent of the inspections found serious violations of basic animal care standards, including sick or dead animals in their cages, lack of proper veterinary care, inadequate shelter from weather conditions and dirty, unkempt cages that were too small,” the draft resolution states. Manna said he hopes to introduce the resolution at the Town Board’s Monday, Feb. 7th meeting. He said similar resolutions have passed in Austin, Texas and Albuquerque, N.M. “The resolution will be to have the attorney draft a local law to ban the retail sale of puppies,” he said. “Amherst should lead in this legislation. It should try to do whatever it can for residents.”
Schlick said the organization hopes its campaign will lead to the resolution being passed in Amherst. After working with the town, she and Gick said the goal is to have a similar law passed in the county as well as the state. She also said she also hopes to work with the Humane Society of the United States and the USDA to lobby for national legislation that would further protect dogs from being mistreated at puppy mills. “I want people to start protecting these animals and speak out for the voiceless,” Schlick said. “These dogs don’t have a voice.”
For more information about NYS Citizens Against Puppy Mills, contact Lorry Schlick at 716-937-3829 or Deb Gick at 716-228-9155 or visit the group's website at www.citizensagainstpuppymills.org or email them.
Legislation to Ban the Retail of Pet Store Puppies Proposed by Town of Amherst
The first meeting of 2011 of NYS CAPM was held Tuesday, Jan. 18th at the Harlem Road Community Center on 4255 Harlem Rd, near Main St., in Amherst, NY. Mr. Mark Manna, Amherst Town Councilman, supporting the ordinance to ban the retail sale of Pet Store Puppies, was our Guest Speaker.
We are asking all NYS CAPM members, pet professionals, rescue groups and Amherst citizens to speak at a very important Town Council Meeting on Monday, Feb 7th at 7 PM at the Amherst Town Hall at 5583 Main Street in Williamsville to address the necessity as to why we need this ordinance passed. You need not be an Amherst resident! Volunteer speakers will have 3 minutes to make their case on behalf of suffering puppy mill dogs on the 7th. If you feel you would like to speak in support of this important legislation, please be prepared to make a strong case for our cause. Keep comments concise, heartfelt and tell the Board how such an ordinance will help the Amherst Community.
If you cannot attend, PLEASE send an e-mail to the Amherst Town Board to URGING THEM to support the passage of the ordinance banning the sale of Pet Shop Puppies. Send all emails to: email@example.com and make sure to ask your animal loving friends and family to do the same!!!
From L to R: Amherst Town Councilman, Mark Manna, Lorry Schlick, President, Deb Gick, VP and Jodi Jones, Sec'y/Tresurer of NYS CAPM
Motion to Ban Puppy Sales Rejected
A demonstration held on Saturday shows lots of snow and NYS Citizens Against Puppy Mills members, (L-R), Jodi Jones, Lorry Schlick & puppy mill rescue dog, Charlie, Geri Eberhardt and Lisa Brzeczkowski, in front of the Amherst Municpal Building urging Amherst lawmakers to pass the pet store ordinance on Monday night.
More than an hour of back-and- forth barking about whether Amherst should ban the retail sale of puppies concluded Monday with Town Board members accepting the advice of the town attorney to steer clear of the matter.
Town Attorney E. Thomas Jones informed board members that such a local regulation is not permissible because state law specifically pre-empts it — thus making it difficult for the measure to stand up in the state’s courts.
“It needs to be addressed in Albany and not in the Town of Amherst,” Jones said.
The attorney gave a brief synopsis of his legal opinion following an 80-minute public hearing.
Council members voted, 5-1, to adhere to Jones’ advice on the matter, following two dozen speakers who argued on both sides of whether the town should make it illegal for stores to sell dogs.
Later, Council Member Mark Manna tried introducing a measure that would have directed Jones to draft a town law restricting puppy sales, but Supervisor Barry A. Weinstein ruled the resolution out of order due to the earlier vote on the attorney’s findings.
Afterward, Manna said he was disappointed by the outcome but encouraged that the town was engaged in the discussion about inhumane dog breeders.
“The town level is an appropriate place to start, and if it fails it should go to the next level,” he said. “To not bring this forward in a public discussion would be a dereliction of our duty.”
More than 175 people turned out for Monday’s meeting.
Supporters of Manna’s measure argued that pet stores are supplied by corporate breeders — referred to by critics as “puppy mills” — that have little regard for animal welfare and are notorious for unscrupulous practices.
“Why does this continue to happen?” said Lorry Schlick, president and founder of Citizens Against Puppy Mills. “It’s because it’s legal and very, very profitable.”
Barbara Carr, executive director of the Erie County SPCA, also spoke in favor of the town developing a measure that would help combat the problem of unscrupulous animal breeders.
Opponents of a local ordinance maintained that a town puppy sale ban would unfairly target a single store, Steve’s Wonderful World of Pets on Sheridan Drive, the only retail outlet in town that sells puppies.
“Where’s the proof that he’s buying puppies [from a puppy mill]?” said Linda Hottum, who owns two Lhasa apsos purchased from Steve’s Wonderful World of Pets. “My experience with them has been absolutely fabulous.”
Store owner Steve Lane said he understands the concerns of dog lovers who want to put bad breeders out of business.
But “to define all commercial breeders as puppy mills is specious and unfair,” he said. “Saying that my puppies come from puppy mills is just a lie. I’m very proud of my business, and I’m very proud of my staff.”
The Citizens Against Puppy Mills group also cited the interpretation of its own lawyer, who stated that a local law was doable.
A dozen cities in several states have crafted such laws, Manna said.