An Amherst lawmaker is teaming with a local animal rescue group to introduce town legislation that would ban the sale of dogs from retail pet stores.
Council Member Mark Manna on Wednesday night joined with the founders of Western New Citizens Against Puppy Mills to host a public meeting that attracted about 60 people to the Harlem Road Community Center.
Manna assured those who attended the meeting that the proposed local law was not intended to target specific individuals or businesses, but to ensure that puppies that are sold in the town do not come from puppy mills.
Such mills were described as breeding farms where the health and social welfare of the animals sold are routinely compromised and are a secondary concern to turning a profit.
"There is an irrefutable pet shop-puppy mill connection," Manna said.
Lorry Schlick, president and founder of Citizens Against Puppy Mills, said her organization's research confirms that claim.
"We did do our due diligence," said Schlick, who described her organization as a puppy mill awareness group.
However, Steve Lane, owner of Steve's Wonderful World of Pets in Amherst, insisted that he and other retail breeders were being unfairly lumped in with unscrupulous animal breeders.
"I guess I was hoping for the opportunity to share the other side of the story," Lane told reporters after the hourlong forum concluded. "There are hundreds of people that have bought dogs from me that are very happy.
"There are breeders who breed without concern for the welfare of the puppies or the parents and who are just producing dogs to try and make a profit," Lane added, "and when I first opened the store, I did not sell dogs because of that."
Lane said his is the only business in Amherst that sells puppies from a pet store and said he acquires his puppies through Hunte Corp., a broker in Goodman, Mo., which he said he has thoroughly checked out. He said his wife, a veterinary technician, had worked for Hunte for six months.
Manna said he will introduce his resolution to ban retail puppy sales at the Feb. 7 Amherst Town Board meeting.