ASPCA Welcomes Law to Restrict Live Animal Markets in New York

Governor Cuomo signs NY A.9158/S.6383; extends moratorium on live bird markets in NYC
May 1, 2012

NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) applauds New York state lawmakers and Governor Andrew Cuomo for enacting A.9158/S.6383 to extend the expiring state law effectively preventing any new, state-licensed live bird markets in New York City. In 2008, New York state proactively restricted the growth of live bird slaughter facilities in New York City by prohibiting the ability to locate them within 1,500 feet of a private residence, and this bipartisan bill extends that moratorium for another four years.

“The live bird market system–including the slaughter facilities, the distribution centers, and the transport mechanisms–often overlook even the most basic animal welfare provisions that should be afforded to birds, and indeed, all animals,” said Bill Ketzer, ASPCA senior state legislative director of the Northeastern Region. “Birds arrive at live markets–tattered, dehydrated, and stressed–and little is done to remedy these situations before slaughter.” 

Sponsored by Assembly Member Barbara Clark, D-Queens, and Sen. Jack Martins, R-Mineola, the new law also protects public safety as some strains of avian influenza (AI), like the deadly H5N1 virus, have been linked to live animal markets and human deaths in Asia and Europe. While this strain has not yet been detected in the United States, AI viruses mutate endlessly and unpredictably, producing different strains and increasing the risk of highly pathogenic strains that can infect humans. Approximately 15 million birds are slaughtered at New York City's 80 live bird markets annually, presenting a significant risk to public health.

Live bird markets are not subject to the federal Animal Welfare Act and state inspectors with the Department of Agriculture and Markets have no authority to enforce New York state's animal cruelty laws.  Very little care is given to these birds from their birth–at large, out-of-state production facilities–to their death. “We thank Governor Cuomo for signing this bill into law and protecting animals, public health, and the quality of life for New Yorkers,” added Ketzer.

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