ASPCA Commends Gov. Cuomo for Enacting New Law to Crack Down on Unscrupulous Pet Dealers

New law closes a loophole that has allowed pet dealers and animal sellers to evade state oversight
August 15, 2017

NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) commends New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for enacting S.5599, a critical animal protection measure that requires all non-municipal animal sheltering and rescue organizations to register with the Department of Agriculture and Markets before receiving exemptions from licensing and inspection under the New York State Pet Dealer Program. Sponsored by Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Suffolk County) and Assemblymember Kenneth Zebrowski (D-Rockland), S.5599 will take effect in 90 days. In addition to the ASPCA, this legislation received strong support from members of the New York State Animal Protection Federation statewide.

"Animal shelters across New York State and their rescue partners have done an incredible job reducing animal homelessness to a fraction of what our communities faced 20 years ago,” said Bill Ketzer, senior director of ASPCA Government Relations for the Northeast region. “This long overdue legislation will support those shelters by closing the existing loophole permitting unscrupulous pet dealers and animal sellers from evading state oversight by obtaining not-for-profit status. The ASPCA commends Senator Boyle and Assemblymember Zebrowski for their efforts to improve animal protection laws in the state, and we thank Governor Cuomo for signing this legislation."

Currently, pet dealer exemptions are mandated by law sight-unseen, creating a troublesome loophole that has become increasingly exploited by pet dealers and animal sellers who have learned that they can avoid state oversight simply by obtaining not-for-profit status. S.5599 will provide the Department of Agriculture and Markets with the authority to oversee these entities for the first time in history to ensure compliance with public health laws and agency regulations regarding the importation of animals.

“The unfettered flow of companion animals into New York has created a host of animal health, public safety and consumer protection challenges,” said Libby Post, executive director of the New York State Animal Protection Federation. “This law will help stem this tide and strengthen the animal sheltering and rescue organizations that pay attention to the rules and do the right thing.”

In July, Gov. Cuomo signed a bill to add “animal fighting conduct” as a designated offense to qualify for an eavesdropping or video surveillance warrant. Other animal protection measures passed by state lawmakers during the 2017 legislative session prohibit the use of elephants in entertainment acts anywhere in New York State (A.464-A/S.2098) and permit domestic companion animals to board commuter transportation operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) during a state of emergency involving regional evacuation (A.2145/S.2589).

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