The Days of Doggies in the Window Are Numbered
Good morning. It’s Friday. We’ll find out why “How much is that doggy in the window?” is a question that won’t be heard much in New York after 2024. We’ll also meet a Manhattan community board that’s different from most. It wants more housing built within its boundaries.
Credit…Sara Naomi Lewkowicz for The New York Times
New York is banning pet stores from selling dogs, cats and rabbits. Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation on Thursday that prohibits the sale of pets raised by commercial breeders who, animal rights groups say, keep them in poor conditions.
“Some of the worst puppy mills around the country have long supplied New York’s pet stores with animals that were raised in inhumane conditions, churning out litter after litter to drive a profit,” said Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, a sponsor of the bill that Hochul signed. Rosenthal said it would “finally close the puppy mill pipeline.”
But the ban will not take effect until December 2024, a delay worked out in closed-door negotiations in Albany that ended with Hochul agreeing to sign the measure. “The delay is meant to make it easier for the pet stores to make the transition to a humane business model,” said Libby Post, the executive director of the New York State Animal Protection Federation.
The negotiations also led to changes intended to soften the economic strain for pet stores, although far fewer now sell animals from mills — Post said the number had dropped to 70 or so, from 400 stores in early 2000s. Opponents say that commercial breeders raise animals that are often abused or sick and that eventually burden consumers with unexpected veterinary bills.
In signing the measure, Hochul put New York in line with California, Illinois, Maryland and a handful of other states that have imposed similar bans. Breeding facilities have long been a source of intense controversy because, according to animal rights advocates, they operate with little oversight. Consumers could still buy the animals directly from breeders, a provision that would allow prospective pet owners to visit and buy from responsible ones.
And pet stores can sell food and other pet products. “That’s where the bulk of the money is to be made,” Post said. They can also provide grooming, boarding and training services.
Few bills passed by the Legislature carried more emotional weight than S. 1130/A. 4283, as the measure was known in Albany. My colleague Luis Ferré-Sadurní writes that the bill touched off a passionate clash between supporters of animal rights and the pet store industry, which vociferously opposed the measure, saying it would effectively put pet stores out of business. The industry also warned of unintended consequences that could potentially lead to an underground pet market.
A coalition of pet store owners called People United to Protect Pet Integrity, or PUPPI, said that a full-fledged ban would penalize responsible pet stores that already sell puppies raised with care. “By ending licensed and regulated local pet stores, you will remove the people who vet breeders, insure the health of newly homed pets with established veterinarians and guarantee the success of a new pet family,” Jessica Selmer, the president of PUPPI, said in a statement on Thursday after failing to persuade Hochul to veto the bill.
Industry officials had warned that a ban would not crimp commercial breeding facilities, most of which are out of state. Industry officials said that animal rights groups singled out dishonest or dishonorable elements, and they added that unsanitary puppy mills that have been the target of investigations or lawsuits were not representative of the entire industry.
Supporters of the legislation said part of the intent was to encourage adoptions from shelters and rescue organizations, which they say they are overflowing with dogs, many of which were abandoned by people who sought pets during the pandemic.
“These animals are living, loving beings who should be treated with respect, and not like a can of soup to be plucked off a shelf,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris, a Democrat from Queens who was a sponsor of the legislation. “This law will save countless animals from abuse at the hands of horrid puppy mills.”
Prepare for a breezy, rainy day, with temps near the mid-40s. The rain continues at night. Temps will reach the mid-30s.
In effect until Dec. 26.
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A community board that favors development
Community boards in New York City are known for opposing new development. My colleague Mihir Zaveri found one that wants to see more.
Members of Community Board 4 on Manhattan’s West Side are tackling the housing crisis by calling for the construction of more homes in their community — 23,000 more, including roughly 1,400 that would be affordable for lower-income New Yorkers. The board’s territory, stretching from 14th Street to Columbus Circle, includes diverse areas like Hell’s Kitchen and upscale ones like Chelsea and Hudson Yards, as well as art galleries, the High Line, the Port Authority bus terminal and run-down warehouses.
Community Board 4 does not have the power to turn its plan into reality by itself. That would involve zoning changes, multimillion-dollar public investments and the repurposing of buildings and property owned by the state, among other provisions.
But the board’s plan has the backing of the City Council members who represent the same neighborhoods and who have considerable power in deciding what does or does not get built.
The board hopes its timing is auspicious: It hopes to capitalize on the growing political momentum among city and state leaders to make it easier for developers to build homes. Mayor Eric Adams said last week that the city would try to simplify regulations to speed construction of new housing. He said the city would drop environmental reviews for some residential buildings.
Gov. Kathy Hochul has promised to make housing issues a central part of her agenda in 2023, and when she and Adams appeared together on Wednesday to announce a vision for a “new New York,” she said they would seek new ideas to address the housing shortage. A report from a panel they appointed several months ago recommended modernizing regulations to make it easier to convert office buildings into apartments, saying a tax incentive should be offered to promote the creation of affordable housing in particular.
Jeffrey LeFrancois, the chair of Community Board 4, acknowledged the challenges of fulfilling all the provisions in the board’s plan. But he added, “If we achieve 25 percent of this plan, we’ve made a difference in the community and the City of New York.”
Bar stool blues
Every week since 1976, Metropolitan Diary has published stories by, and for, New Yorkers. Now we’re asking for your help picking the best Diary entry of the year. The voting closes on Monday at midnight.
I was moving out of my Upper West Side apartment and I had two short bar stools I couldn’t use anymore. I decided to leave them at the curb, as New Yorkers often do with such items.
Twenty minutes after depositing them on the sidewalk, I returned to find that they were gone and a tall wobbly stool was standing in their place.
— Melanie Petersen
Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Send submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here.
Glad we could get together here. See you on Monday. — J.B.
P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword and Spelling Bee. You can find all our puzzles here.
Melissa Guerrero and Ed Shanahan contributed to New York Today. You can reach the team firstname.lastname@example.org.