Governor Kathy Hochul signed new legislation this week “which will ban the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits at retail pet stores aiming to end the puppy mill-to-pet store pipeline and stop abusive breeders,” her office said in a press release. Set to take effect in 2024, the law sounds like a big victory for Governor Hochul on cursory glance.
However, Governor Hochul and her staff may find it useful to visit the North Shore Animal League in Port Washington, NY (“the world’s largest” animal rescue and adoption organization) and whose national spokesperson is Beth Stern (wife of radio personality Howard). It’s also where the communications staff has its own building as we reported when our reporter eventually showed up undercover after she was stonewalled for nearly a full calendar year.
Rescue Retail: Adopt Means Shop
“As temperatures were dropping our Rescue Team met up in Missouri with our partners at National Mill Dog Rescue to help bring 43 dogs and puppies, who were rescued from the horrors and inhumane conditions of commercial breeding facilities, to the love and safety of our Port Washington, NY campus.”
North Shore Animal League regularly receives dogs from National Mill, which journalist Kim Kavin reported on in a 2018 Huffington Post story. National Mill is a nonprofit organization that purchases dogs and puppies from breeders it describes as puppy mills, sometimes purchasing these pups through dog auctions. After Kavin’s story in The Huffington Post ran, the Colorado agency that regulates dog-dealing entities hit National Mill with the biggest fine the agency’s manager could recall.
North Shore confirmed its relationship with National Mill to The Canine Review. When asked about Kavin’s reporting, NSALA offered this statement by email to TCR:
Animal League America does rescue animals in collaboration with National Mill Dog Rescue. We have done this for over a decade and have never paid for these animals. In fact, most of these dogs arrive with a host of medical conditions that include severe dental problems, skin conditions, and a variety of cancers that often result when animals are not spayed. Many need specialty care, such as echocardiograms, and some require surgeries to assist with bone deformities, broken jaws, displaced hips and elbows from living in cages. Since these animals no longer have value to the Mill operators they would be killed. We prefer to rescue them. Additionally, the animals we rescue often suffer from behavior problems as a result of a lack of socialization. All of these conditions are treated and paid for by the medical and behavior professionals at Animal League America. Each mill dog rescue has a cost, on average, of approximately $1000 to treat their illnesses and place them into permanent loving homes.”
In her 2018 story, Kavin wrote that her reporting “points to a damning conclusion: that National Mill’s version of ‘puppy mill rescue’ simply normalizes another retail pipeline, with a side helping of virtue, from the commercial breeding industry to the public.” She continued: “Iowa’s attorney general, in an action filed this past March against other rescue nonprofits, defined a similar operation as ‘puppy laundering’ intended to sidestep the pet store bans lawmakers have been enacting.
‘This is a dog-buying and distributing company that is posing as a rescue,’ said Cindy McKeon, who served as National Mill’s facilities manager from 2011 to 2013.”
Joanne Yohannan, North Shore’s senior vice president of operations, says that NSALA has never paid to purchase any animals from National Mill and often has to provide costly medical procedures for the animals. She estimates an average cost of $1000 to rehabilitate each animal rescued from a mill. The adoption fees on NSALA’s website for “Puppy Mills Rescues” are $250, priced separately from “Puppies” which are $350.
Hochul: “Dogs, cats and rabbits across New York deserve loving homes and humane treatment”
“I’m proud to sign this legislation,” Hochul said in the press release, “which will make meaningful steps to cut down on harsh treatment and protect the welfare of animals across the state.”
Governor Hochul’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment about North Shore Animal League’s laundering of mill puppies. We will continue to follow up.