Albany County neuters unscrupulous pet dealers

Legislature adopts law strengthening state regulations, seller voices concern

— Fido would likely be wagging his tail if he knew stricter laws were recently adopted to protect his four-legged brethren in Albany County.

The Albany County Legislature on Monday, June 9, unanimously approved a local law requiring the permitting of cat and dog sellers, along with regulating breeders. Animal advocates spoke favorably of the tighter regulations and standards aiming to curb inhumane treatment alongside implementing regular enforcement. At least one local pet store owner is against the law though, claiming it’s unnecessary government intervention.

Legislators adopted the law largely as first presented, but Democrats did make a concession to reach bipartisan support, according to Gary Domalewicz, D-Albany. The threshold for someone to obtain a pet seller permit was increased from 10 dogs or cats annually to 17.

“Albany County will have the first and strongest law in the state that will protect our pets and our pet owners,” Domalewicz said. “This bill is going to make sure that you get pets that are really top shelf, in good health and well groomed.”

State lawmakers in January repealed a 15-year prohibition on local laws regulating the pet industry. This allows communities to craft its own regulations, which must at least meet state regulations but can exceed it.

The county’s law regulates minimum standards of care such as necessary housing, exercise, grooming, sanitation and feeding and watering. Consumer protections are also included.

Domalewicz and legislator Bryan Clenahan, D-Guilderland, crafted the law working with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Clenahan said a “small handful” of pet sellers and breeders had expressed the United States Department of Agriculture and the state Department of Agriculture and Markets were effectively performing inspections.

“The reality is ... only 15 people work on these investigations for Ag. and Markets in the entire state,” Clenahan said. “And of those 15, they only work on these issues about 25 percent of the time.”

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