Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation to regulate pet dealers and crack down on unscrupulous practices in this industry. The bill (S.5599/A.7195) requires incorporated animal shelters, rescue organizations and other non-profit entities that transport or offer animals up for adoption in New York State to register with the Department of Agriculture and Markets, subjecting them to state regulation for the first time.
"For too long, unscrupulous pet dealers have avoided proper oversight, and placed the health of pets under their care at risk in the name of profits," Governor Cuomo said. "This legislation closes this loophole and creates a framework that allows regulation of these organizations and companies and creates peace of mind for pet owners."
Current law authorizes the Department of Agriculture and Markets to oversee and regulate municipal animal shelters and any entity serving in that capacity under contract. The current law exempts humane societies. This allows some unscrupulous businesses that sell animals take advantage of this exemption, and organize as not-for-profit humane societies to avoid the stringent importation, inspection and documentation requirements set forth in New York's pet dealer regulations. These owners then seek to sell pets as quickly as possible and house their animals in unsafe and unsanitary conditions without adequate food or care.
This legislation fixes that loophole and requires not-for-profit entities to comply with all documentation and vaccination requirements associated with the import of pets into the state for purchase. Potential pet owners will now have greater insight into the animals they are seeking to adopt, and these facilities will be subject to greater oversight and compliance.
Senator Phil Boyle said, "There are so many wonderful organizations that do incredible and valuable work to help animals, but unfortunately some not-so-great people have used this exemption as an excuse not to be regulated. The number of licensed pet dealers in New York has declined over the last 40 percent over the past five years showing just how troublesome this loophole really is. This new law will require and ensure a measure of transparency to foster public trust that animals are getting the care they deserve. I applaud Governor Cuomo for signing this measure into law, and I'd like to thank the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the New York State Animal Protection Federation, and the New York State Veterinary Medical Society for their support on this important issue."
Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski said, "Most rescue groups do a great job finding forever homes for needy animals. Unfortunately, there are also bad apples who skirt the law; bringing in sick animals in poor conditions into the state. These entities avoid pet dealer regulations by hiding under not for profit status. No more: New York will now close this loophole, regulate these entities, and better protect these needy animals. I'd like to thank Governor Cuomo for his swift action in signing this important measure into law."