Editorial: County can't be puppy watchdog

Photo credit: Jessica Rotkiewicz |

Anyone who's looking for a puppy would be well-served by a rating system that tells them which pet stores sell dogs that have been responsibly bred and well treated.

The difference between a reputable breeder and a puppy mill, the difference between a conscientious store owner and an abusive one, often means the difference between having a great companion and acquiring a troubled, dangerous and sickly animal.

Such ratings would be valuable consumer information, but it's not the county's place to create the system.

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Legis. Jon Cooper (D-Lloyd Harbor) wanted to ban the sale of puppies in pet stores in Suffolk, but then he discovered that pet stores are regulated by state law. He now plans to propose the county create a committee to rate the stores, comparing the idea to the restaurant guide Zagat.

But Zagat isn't run by the government.

Having the county tell consumers which businesses it favors and which it spurns is a terrible idea, comically open to abuse. How long would it be before the accusations flew that shops run by donors to the proper political party rated better than those run by the apolitical, or supporters of the wrong party?

If Cooper thinks the laws in Albany don't do enough to protect puppies and consumers, he should fight to change them. He should also suggest an animal-rights group rate the stores.

But he can't let county government be the watchdog. hN