Six Yorkshire terrier puppies rescued from a puppy mill in Kentucky...

Six Yorkshire terrier puppies rescued from a puppy mill in Kentucky will arrive at the Paws of War headquarters in Nesconset on Thursday. Credit: Paws of War

Six Yorkshire terrier puppies, saved from a Kentucky puppy mill, are destined for new homes with veterans and first responders through Long Island’s Paws of War — though not, its founder said, at the expense of local dogs up for adoption.

“Little dogs … are very hard to find for our veterans,” said Robert Misseri, founder of the Nesconset-based not-for-profit.

The puppies, due to reach the shelter on Thursday, should be ideal for veterans and first responders who prefer small dogs, or whose age or health or dwellings rule out larger dogs, said Kelli Porti, an Army veteran and the group’s veteran and community outreach liaison.

”We’ll just see how they feel … sometimes a pup will gravitate and pick a person and sometimes a person will pick a pup," she said.

Increasingly, though, the out-of-state dogs undercut the chances that local dogs will be adopted, animal advocates say.

“I think the importation of puppies into this state is a real problem when we have all these unwanted animals in our shelter,” said Gary Rogers, Nassau SPCA president.

“You can go to every shelter on Long Island and probably across the state there are animals looking to be adopted,” he said.

“And you have puppy stores … and … rescue groups that are bringing in animals from out of state.”

Misseri says his group takes dogs out of local shelters to enroll in its programs, which include training service and companion animals.

“We are the biggest advocate [of] adopting locally,” Misseri said.

“We generally do not import dogs except for our veterans and our programs — and only if we don’t have something on Long Island locally.”

Paws of War and another not-for-profit, Smithtown’s Guardians of Rescue, were contacted by the sheriff’s department in Pulaski County, Kentucky, which “came upon a cruel breeding situation,” Misseri said.

“The dogs were just wandering around, there was debris everywhere … and everything else that goes along with these breeding situations was horrific,” Misseri said.

The six Yorkies, suffering from parasites, skin infections and burns from urine, now have gotten clean bills of health.

In a few weeks, they will be joined by a few more of their fellow refugees, including the parents, Misseri said.

Animal advocates in June persuaded state lawmakers to approve a bill barring pet stores from selling dogs, cats and rabbits. 

The bill, which Gov. Kathy Hochul has until the end of the year to sign, aims to clamp down on puppy mills' sales to pet stores. The governor’s office had no immediate comment.

Two of the measure’s co-sponsors, Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., (D-Queens) and Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore), agreed the bill was popular and hoped Hochul signs it soon.

“A lot of people want this bill signed,” Addabbo said.

Said Boyle: “The bill was passed with strong bipartisan support in both the Senate and the Assembly."

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