New York recently amended laws governing pet dealers by:
(1) exempting incorporated animal shelters, rescue organizations or other non-profit entities that transport or offer animals for adoption (a/k/a “sale”) from the statutory definition of “pet dealer,” and (2) requiring those entities to register with the Department of Agriculture and Markets and provide certain information on an annual basis. See S5599.
The information that must be reported to the State includes:
The number of animal taken in, adopted, placed into permanent or temporary homes, or otherwise transferred into, out of, or within the state by the applicant during the prior calendar year. S5599 at S. 408 (G).
At first glance, these amendments start the long-needed steps to regulate sales of pets through the largely unregulated retail rescue channels, but the following are some concerns about the law (some of which may have been preexisting):
THE COMMISSIONER MAY DENY ANY APPLICATION FOR REGISTRATION AS SET FORTH IN SUBDIVISIONS ONE AND TWO OF THIS SECTION OR REVOKE ANY REGISTRATION ALREADY GRANTED, AFTER WRITTEN NOTICE TO THE APPLICANT OR REGISTRANT AND AN OPPORTUNITY TO BE HEARD, WHEN:
THE APPLICANT OR REGISTRANT, OR AN OFFICER OR DIRECTOR HAS BEEN CONVICTED OF A MISDEMEANOR OR FELONY ANIMAL CRUELTY OFFENSE BY A COURT OF THE UNITED STATES OR ANY STATE OR TERRITORY THEREOF, WITHOUT SUBSEQUENT PARDON BY THE GOVERNOR OR OTHER APPROPRIATE AUTHORITY OF THE STATE OR JURISDICTION IN WHICH SUCH CONVICTION OCCURRED, OR RECEIPT OF A CERTIFICATE OF RELIEF FROM DISABILITIES OR A CERTIFICATE OF GOOD CONDUCT PURSUANT TO ARTICLE TWENTY-THREE OF THE CORRECTION LAW Section 4 (C).
Similar to animal abuse registries, this section bans individuals from working with animals forever, for potentially minor infractions. More thought should be placed on the type of conduct for which this type of lifetime punishment is warranted. As I have discussed before, historically, many accused of animal cruelty offenses, even if innocent, have opted to plead guilty to minor offenses since the cost of defense far outweighs the fines. It is unclear, whether this law is retrospective or prospective regarding such convictions.
Another area of concern is the exclusion of shelters and rescues from warranties pet stores must provide when selling pets to provide owners recourse if the pet develops clinical signs of infectious diseases within 14 days of sale. Since animals sold through shelter and rescue channels have a greater likelihood of exposure to infectious diseases, veterinarians should be required to examine, treat and inform new owners about the results of those examinations at the time of adoption/sale. The state should consider requiring pets sold through these channels to be held for a reasonable period of time before sale to increase the chance that clinical signs of infectious disease can be diagnosed before sale. Owners should be informed about any congenital defects that are evident to the veterinarian before sale. Notifying new owners about infectious disease and congenital defects is critical to ensure the pet will be placed in a home where owners can afford to treat these often expensive conditions to treat.
Another concern is based on a comment from the sponsor, Senator Boyle, in his press release―the purpose of the bill is to eliminate the:
Pet Dealer License exemption, which has sometimes been exploited by former pet dealers and animal resellers who realized they could successfully avoid state oversight by obtaining a not-for-profit status.
Hopefully this comment is not directed toward pet stores that have been bullied into ceasing sales of professionally-bred dogs and are instead providing pets obtained from shelters and rescue organizations. These stores should be able to register as non-profits, like the other entities providing similar pets.
Of course a huge obstacle to such pet stores trying to convert to the “humane model” espoused by animal rights organizations (despite the lack of evidence that this model actually works) is the requirement in New York for any animal non-profit to be approved by the ASPCA, one of the most profitable non-profit animal rights organizations in the country.
It would seem that there is an inherent conflict if the ASPCA with a decades-old campaign against pet stores that sell puppies, is in a position to approve or deny the non-profit application of a pet store converting to non-profit status.
Hopefully, the NY State Department of Agriculture & Markets can address some of these concerns in regulations.