ALBANY– When Alexis Kozmon and her husband decided to get a dog for their 6-year-old daughter, they chose to adopt rather than buy from a breeder to teach the child the value of rescue.
Four weeks later, the pup the family named Sugar died painfully of distemper, and despite $3,000 in veterinary treatment, the only humane option was to put him down. Two of Sugar’s siblings met the same fate. Kozmon blamed the volunteer rescue that trucked the puppies from Texas, but when she complained to the New York Consumer Protection Agency, she learned those groups were exempt from monitoring.
“There was a loophole,” said Kozmon, who lives in Middletown, Connecticut, but adopted a group from southeast New York. “There was nothing they could do to follow up or investigate.”
Kozmon is among animal lovers who have called for a new law to ensure state oversight of nonprofit animal adoption groups. It tackles everything from poor health and record keeping to unscrupulous pet dealers posing as non-profit “rescuers” and peddling puppies from the same puppy mills as the adopters. seek to avoid.
The law, signed by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo this month, puts nonprofit shelters and rescues under the same state agriculture and markets regulations that cover licensed pet dealers and pet dealers. municipal shelters.
“You have up to 500 nonprofit entities under no regulation,” said Bill Ketzer, a regional manager for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The new law requires organizations to register with the agriculture agency, meet state documentation and vaccination requirements, and disclose the number of animals transported each year. It also gives the agency the power to make additional regulations.
More than 35 states have some form of shelter and rescue regulation, ranging from simple registration to standards of care, Ketzer said. Massachusetts lists state-approved organizations online. Connecticut requires anyone bringing a dog into the state for sale or adoption to be registered with the state and have health certificates for each animal.
Ketzer said New York’s lack of oversight has spawned a brisk trade in puppies being shipped from southern states and overseas to the northeast, where local supply has been squeezed by aggressive neutering programs and prohibition of pet store puppies provided by breeders.
Dogs are often sold quickly without proper veterinary certification to ensure they are not infected with the deadly distemper, parvovirus or rabies. If a dog turns out to be ill, the new owner has little recourse under current regulations.
Michelle Linendoll of South Glens Falls, Fulton County, is one of many adopters who say their puppies were infected with parvovirus at an upstate New York shelter that receives animals from Georgia, New York. Alabama and other southern states. Her pup, Tanner, survived, but others died after their owners spent thousands of dollars trying to save them.
“Peanut died in my car on the way to the vet; I held him when he breathed his last,” said Sara Butler, who got an 8-week-old boxer mix from the same rescue. “They tried to offer another pup to take home, but after seeing Peanut suffer horribly on that last car ride, I couldn’t see it happening to another.”
Lack of oversight also threatens human health. In 2013, a puppy that had been shipped from Texas to an upstate New York shelter was sold to a woman in Vermont. It turned out he had rabies and 15 people had to get the rabies shot.
Diane Scuderi, director of PawSafe Animal Rescue, where Kozmon got Sugar, said she was happy to comply with the new legislation. “We are already registered in Connecticut and we are a registered charity in New York,” she said. “Giving them the additional information is not a problem.”
Scuderi disputes Kozmon’s complaints about Sugar’s medical documentation and other issues. She said that with her group adopting nearly 1,000 dogs a year, sometimes a pup would get sick despite having been vaccinated and checked by a veterinarian. “When someone calls and says they have a sick puppy, we’ll work with them,” she said.
Ketzer said adoption rates of homeless animals have skyrocketed and euthanasia rates have plummeted over the decades thanks to the work of well-established shelter and rescue groups, but there are also cases. well-documented where non-profit rescues have failed to protect adoptive animals and families.
“This new law is the beginning of an attempt to find out who the bad actors are and set standards for everyone to follow,” said Libby Post, executive director of the New State Animal Welfare Federation. York, which represents municipal shelters.