Author Archives | Marleen_Kaesebier

two rows of metal crates each have a dog peering out

How Much Longer is That Doggie in The Window Allowed? The “Puppy Mill Pipeline” Bill sits on Governor’s desk

A state bill banning the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in retail pet shops passed the Senate and Assembly in June but is yet to be signed by the governor. Several pet dealers in the Bronx, there are five licensed in total, now await the decision of whether the “Puppy Mill Pipeline Legislation” will become law. 

Marlene Jimenez, 31, owner of R&K Pet Shop in East Tremont, said she doesn’t know how she will change her business model if the law goes into effect. 

“The only hope I have is – I hope my store doesn’t go down. A lot of businesses are shutting down and that’s my scare,” Jimenez said.

“I’m already getting people used to it. We’re minimizing our orders of dogs because the breeders are already leaving, they’re going somewhere else,” she said, arguing that pet shops “don’t make money from selling merchandise.”

Eddie Diaz, General Manager at R&K noted, “The dogs always sell, regardless. They go really fast. It’s amazing, because this is a poor neighborhood, you’d be surprised by how many people come.” The dogs usually sell for somewhere between $1,500 and $2,000, depending on breed, and decreasing in price as they get older. 

Zoo-Rama, a Westchester Square pet shop, had more than 50 puppies for sale in its store on a day in September, making it one of the largest pet retailers in the Bronx. A Zoo-Rama employee said he believes the store will close if the bill goes into effect. 

Instead of banning the sale of these animals in stores, he would rather the government put more restrictions in place and close the pet shops that don’t abide.

Meanwhile, animal rights organizations including the New York State Animal Protection Federation, are championing the bill, pressuring Governor Kathy Hochul to sign.  

Looking for a dog with his partner on a Friday in September, Ivan Valerio, 30, explained that the reason that they chose to go to a pet shop was that “we got to interact with the pet.” 

Valerio and his partner petted and picked up the dog they were considering in a playpen in the center of the store. “Since we’re first time pet owners, I don’t know if we would consider shelter pets,” said Valerio, adding they would also consider buying a dog from a breeder.

When not being considered for purchase, the more than 50 dogs at Zoo-Rama are held in metal kennels  – sometimes two in one – with a blanket rolled up in the corner, leaving the kennels unlined so that the dogs’ excretions can fall through the gaps.

On the same afternoon, the dogs watched, slept, sipped their water or scratched at their cage. One black and white puppy ate the excrement off the bottom of his cage.

A young girl perused the kennels with her mother.

“No. No… you be quiet,” she said sternly to a barking dog.

Shelters and breeders, unlike pet shops, would not be affected by the ban on pet sales. The sale of animals from breeders to consumers would remain legal, as would adoption.

“The pet stores have the opportunity with this bill to rebrand as humane pet stores that care about the animals,” said Libby Post, Executive Director of the NYSAPF. They could work together with shelters, for example, placing animals up for adoption in the storefront windows instead of ordering puppies. 

The NYSAPF sent over 2,500 postcards to the governor’s office, urging her to sign the bill, Post said. Hochul is reviewing the legislation, according to her press office. 

While the bill failed to pass the assembly in 2019 and 2020 in its previous versions, in June, it passed the New York Senate 57 in favor to 5 against.  

If the bill is signed by the Governor the act will go into effect one year after becoming law. 

A dog in a pet shop in the Bronx. This video may be upsetting to watch. Marleen Kaesebier for The Bronx Ink.

Posted in Bronx Beats, Bronx Blog, Bronx Neighborhoods, East Bronx, Morrisania, Multimedia, North Central Bronx, Northwest Bronx, Politics, Southern Bronx, The Bronx Beat0 Comments

East Tremont Hosts Two Job Events

At least 125 people attended a government-sponsored job fair in East Tremont Friday, vying for jobs that range from training positions to executive-level roles in nonprofits and in businesses. Meanwhile, less than a mile away, Amazon was hosting its own recruiting event for jobs in its five facilities in the Bronx.

Despite the overlap, an organizer of the Amazon event said the timing of the events was not about “rivalry.”

“They have an event there, we’re having this event here,” said Daniel Agosto, Director of Workforce Programs at Phipps Neighborhoods, a non-profit that partnered with Amazon.

“Here” being Phipps’ new location in West Farms. “It’s definitely been a successful event, (with) a lot of people coming through,” Agosto said. 

More than one hundred people pre-registered for the Amazon job fair. The mega online retailer currently has five facilities in the Bronx and is opening a new delivery station on Barry Street in Hunts Point on September 28th. Recently, there’s been a wave of support across the country for unionization in large corporations, including Amazon. The Staten Island Amazon Warehouse, JFK8, voted to form the company’s first U.S. labor union last April. 

Though its employment rate has increased since the pandemic, the Bronx historically has the highest unemployment rate in New York City. Compared to the June 2022 unemployment rate of 4.8 percent of New York County, the rate of unemployment in the Bronx was nearly double at 8.4 percent (down from 14.4 percent in June 2021), according to the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics.  

Vocational Instruction Project (VIP) Community Services, a Bronx non-profit that offers health and community services, hosted the larger job fair. The event was sponsored by council and senate members, including Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson, who made a short appearance.  

Representatives from 32 non-profit organizations, businesses, educational institutions and governmental services attended the VIP job fair. “We got a wonderful, wonderful turnout,” said Carmen Rivera, Chief Vocational & Community Affairs Officer at VIP Community Services.

Lisette Rosa, Director of Field Recruiting at Preferred Home Care of New York, met with about 45 people at her stand. “We follow up with all of our candidates,” Rosa said, adding people mostly came to her looking for training. 

Ana Mateo, Recruitment Specialist at the Office of the Bronx County District Attorney, was looking for people to fill “anything from cleaning to executive positions.” She has attended the job fair for the past few years, highlighting that “it helps us connect with the community, showing them how everyone can get a chance at employment.” She talked with around twenty people at her stand.

“A lot of people see ‘district attorney’ and back off,” she said with a smile.

Posted in Bronx Neighborhoods0 Comments