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New Suffolk County Pet Store Rating Program Unveiled

Lisa Finn
Riverhead Patch

Animal advocates are inviting owners of Suffolk County pet shops to rate their own businesses.

This week, the Suffolk County pet store rating board invited pet shops to voluntarily join the program.

“I would once again encourage the pet stores of Suffolk County to join this great program,” said Legislator William Spencer. “Now that the pet store rating board has codified its rules and procedures and once the county pet stores have been rated, we will be able to say to potential pet owners: these are the practices of the pet stores in Suffolk County and this is how they stack up against each other.”

In recent months, animal advocates have protested pet store practices and protested with an eye toward raising awareness. In Aquebogue, protests were held on a weekly basis last year despite a store owner's response, hoping to enlighten the public about puppy mills.

A media campaign was also kickstarted on the Long Island Railroad and Metro North by the Companion Animal Protection Society.

The pet store rating program was part of legislation passed at the end of 2011 by the Suffolk County Legislature, with the effort led by former Legislator Jon Cooper, according to a release sent out Thursday.

The “Puppy and Dog Protection Rating Program" legislation mandated that criteria be developed and used by the rating board to review pet stores in Suffolk County and reassure the public that stores offered safety for animals and protected the well-being of any animals being offered for sale.

The board also aims to ensure that the animals being offered for sale to the public are healthy and fit to be adopted.

“The board is hoping that this effort will educate the public about the practices of the pet stores in Suffolk County,” said Sara Davison of the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons. “Our board is looking forward to getting to work and we are honored to be working with the support of Legislator Spencer.”

The board is comprised of animal experts with collective experience in caring for animals.

If pet stores are found to have issues, business owners will have 30 days to fix their problems and get an approval from the board.

Once pet stores are found to meet the appropriate standards of care established by the rating criteria, the owner would be issued a certificate to display, valid for one calendar year, indicating that the pet store rating board had inspected the store and given an official nod that it provides proper care for the pets offered.