TONAWANDA, NY (WKBW) – A local pet store could be forced to close, if a bill currently on the governor’s desk becomes law.
This legislation cracking down on “mass breeding of puppies” was passed by the state legislature in early June.
If Governor Kathy Hochul approves Senate Bill 1130/Assembly Bill 4283, it would ban retail stores from selling dogs, cats and rabbits. Instead, these stores should use their cage space to encourage adoption.
Twenty-seven employees could be out of work at The Barking Boutique in Tonawanda under the new rules, according to owner and founder David Boelkes. There are four locations in the United States: three are in Michigan and the fourth is based in Tonawanda, which just opened in December 2021.
The store, located on Eggert Road, is one of approximately 80 registered pet stores in New York state, according to the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, which oversees pet dealers.
David Boelkes said: “If this bill passes it will make it harder and less transparent for people to find their puppy. It will be devastating for our employees, all 27 of them.”
“Devastating not only for the employees but also for the families who have been scammed and have gone through this vicious circle of not being able to get a dog from a shelter or being able to get a dog online and we are their only option,” Boelkes said.
The Barking Boutique, in Tonawanda, specializes in what it calls “ethically raised, purpose-bred puppies.”
The shop requires a high level of care for its puppies, with a completely transparent and fully accessible adoption process.
“We try to end puppy mills responsibly by vetting our breeders. We work with breeders who do OFA testing, genetic testing. We have full pedigrees and so with that we offer guarantees with our puppies Our breeders also promise healthy puppies as well,” Boelkes said.
Animal nonprofits like Buddy’s Second Chance Rescue and Ten Lives Club are also trying to end puppy mills and said this bill could be a step in the right direction.
Ten Lives Club public relations manager Kimberly LaRussa said: “It’s very bold for anyone to say that this legislation is not good for animals in any way. If we’re going to make a call phone call we should call and support and make sure our voices are heard and that we are sure we are helping these animals That’s really what I have to say on this.
“There is no reason to elevate these poor animals. There are so many animals in the world, and the adoption fee is around $400. This dog is fully vetted: neutered, neutered, microchipped, all instead of paying thousands of dollars for a dog that came from a completely abused mother who was too high,” said Buddy’s Second Chance Rescue President and Founder Julie Starr.
However, Boelkes said the places where he gets the puppies are considered puppy breeders not puppy mills. He said puppy mills are hoarding sites, where animals are sometimes neglected.
“We are able to give families all the resources they need to have perfect health and a good relationship with this dog,” Boelkes said.
There is also a criterion that the shop has for breeders, such as canine care, 24/7 outdoor and indoor access, animals must be socialized.
NOTE: It has been broadcast that puppies do not stay in kennels except when sleeping. This refers to The Barking Boutique.
“We do site visits about once a quarter. We take different groups of staff to visit all the kennels, to go play and meet the parents so they know exactly where these dogs are coming from that they put in with New York families,” Boelkes said.