The journey began almost ten years ago in Long Island, N.Y. with a story that’s sadly all too common. When Lorianne LaMarca-Pegano visited a pet store in 2003, she fell in love with a Brussels Griffon that she brought home and named Charlemagne. Within six months, the poor pup was diagnosed with parasites, a corneal ulcer, and eventually kidney disease, high blood pressure, and a heart murmur. By the age of three, Lorianne was forced to euthanize Charlemagne.
The fluffy Brussels Griffon came to the pet store from a puppy mill in Kansas. So in Charlemagne's honor, Lorianne made it her mission to put a stop to the cruel breeding operations. After years of lobbying, some progress has finally been made in Lorianne’s home state. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed Charlemagne’s Law this year, which goes into effect on January 14, 2013.
Under the legislation, any licensed pet dealer must follow new requirements, such as hiring a veterinarian, giving mandatory vaccinations, increasing regular exercise, and creating a quarantine area to separate sick animals. Stores must also create a program to respond to diseases and designate an employee to monitor health. Businesses in violation of the new law could lose their license.
The horrors of puppy mills have gotten a lot of media attention in recent years, but people continue to buy dogs from pet stores. It frustrates me to no end. No responsible breeder would ever sell one of their puppies to a pet store.
I’m happy to see that New York is taking action to improve the conditions in pet stores. But it’s not going to solve the root of the problem. The animals in pet stores are bred in horrific conditions with no regard for genetic health. Even if the dogs in the window look healthy at the store, these puppies are prone to developing problems later on since their parents were not tested for genetic diseases at the puppy mill.
I hope that one day New York will replace this law with a complete ban on selling pets in stores, like West Hollywood and South Lake Tahoe have put in place. But for now Charlemagne’s Law is a step in the right direction.