A bill to help protect the health and safety of dogs and cats by authorizing local municipalities to adopt more stringent laws to regulate pet dealers was signed into law last Friday by Gov. Cuomo.
It authorizes municipal governments to enact more stringent laws than those currently existing at the state level by removing the current pre-emption on municipalities to enact their own laws regulating or licensing pet dealers. Any new local ordinance must be at least as stringent as state law and must not result in the banning of the sale of dogs and cats raised in a safe and healthy manner.
The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets will continue to enforce existing state laws pertaining to animal care by pet dealers. Under this legislation, if a municipality chooses to adopt a more stringent local law, enforcement of the new law will be the responsibility of the municipality.
State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach), a prime co-sponsor of the legislation, called the new law “An important step forward for animal safety in New York State.”
“Permitting municipalities to pass strong new local laws to better address cruelty and neglect in these circumstances is a big step forward in advancing animal welfare and preventing the exploitation of dogs and cats for profit,” he said. “Animals depend on us to speak for them when they are being hurt, and this law will make sure they are heard.”
Jane Hoffman, President of the Mayor’s Alliance for New York City’s Animals, said her organization was thrilled with the new law, which, she said, will make a real difference in helping to ensure that New York City becomes a no-kill city, and encouraged the City Council to take advantage of the new law and pass stronger city legislation.
Bobbi Giordano, founder of Bobbi & The Strays rescue group, said in an email:
“This new legislation is a major step in cracking down on the cruel, inhumane conditions, and suffering so many dogs and cats currently endure by puppy millers, pet stores and greedy backyard breeders that we in rescue see all too often.”
The ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States applauded the new law.
“The puppy mill industry wanted to keep the state law unchanged because it allowed maximum profit and minimum accountability,” said Matt Bershadker, President and CEO of the ASPCA. “But with this law, we’ll be able to keep a closer eye on these operations, stop inhumane practices and undoubtedly save many lives.”
Critics of the new law believe that additional regulations are not necessary.
Mike Canning, President and CEO of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, said his organization “regrets the signing of the bill in New York authorizing local governments to regulate pet dealers. We feel that the most appropriate level of government to regulate pet dealers is the state government, where a high level of animal health and animal welfare expertise exists. Depending on the actions local governments take, the availability of quality pets could be impacted by overregulation that sometimes has unintended consequences.”
The American Kennel Club, representing 221 dog clubs in the state, had written to Gov. Cuomo last month asking him to veto the bill, which, they said, “Could negatively impact responsible dog owners and communities.”
“Responsible owners and breeders should be supported and not subject to arbitrary and expensive regulations,” the letter read.
A spokeswoman for the AKC also noted concerns that different laws in different municipalities may be difficult to enforce.