What the New Pet Dealer Law Means to You
A new pet dealer law entitled Agriculture and Markets Article 26-A, “Care of Animals by Pet Dealers,” is scheduled to go into effect in New York State on April 30, 2002. Its purpose is to afford more protection to the animals in pet stores by specifying acceptable standards of care. This provides you with another avenue to make complaints if animals are being kept in unacceptable conditions, appear ill, or some other problem exists. Prior to this law, an animal normally had to show some signs of neglect before action could be taken under the animal cruelty laws contained in Article 26 of the Agriculture and Markets law. This new law works hand in hand with the existing cruelty laws and allows you more opportunities to ensure that pet store animals are being treated humanely.
The following is a synopsis of the new law in a question and answer format. The complete text of the law can be found on our website or by requesting a copy from the Agriculture and Markets Department in Albany. We are providing this information, so you can keep an eye on the pet stores and breeder facilities in your area and report any infractions to the authorities.
- Who will enforce the new pet dealer law?
The Division of Animal Industry of the Agriculture and Markets Department (AM Dept.) in Albany, or the enforcement may be delegated to a local city or county if the AM Dept. and the municipality enter into such an agreement.
- Where do I call to find out who to call with a complaint?
Call the AM Dept. in Albany at (518) 485-7728 or (518) 457-3502.
- Which animals are protected by the new law?
Unfortunately, only cats and dogs.
- What defines a pet dealer?
Pet dealers are entities that sell more than 9 animals a year to the public. Also, breeders who sell more than 25 animals a year to the public are considered pet dealers and are subject to this law. The only exception to the law is a breeder who sells fewer than 25 animals to the public and they must have been raised on the dealer’s residential premises. Also, the definition of pet dealer does not include duly incorporated humane societies.
- What do residential premises mean?
The term includes the entire residential lot (yard, garden) and buildings, such as house, garage, kennel, etc.
- What are the minimum standards of care under the new law?
Several areas are addressed by the new law:Housing – enclosures or cages must be structurally sound with an impervious surface that does not allow the absorption of fluids or retention of odors resulting from cleaning. They must be large enough to allow the animal to make postural adjustments, such as lying down, standing up, or sitting with legs outstretched. If floor is metal strands, they must be coated and not allow an animal’s paw to go through. Area must have adequate ventilation at all times and the air temperature must be moderate and compatible with the well-being of the animal. Area shall have sufficient lighting to permit routine inspection and cleaning. There should be whelping boxes for nursing dogs.
Sanitation – Housing area must be kept clean. Enclosures should allow for elimination of animal waste and not allow the animal to come in contact with it. Animal should be removed if cage is being cleaned with toxic substances.
Feeding and watering – Wholesome food, free of contamination, shall be provided along with fresh water. Animals must be adequately fed at intervals not to exceed 12 hours or at least twice in a 24-hour period.
Handling – Animals must be handled in a humane manner so as not to cause harm to the animal.
Veterinary care – Animals shall be inoculated as required by state and local law. NYS law requires that dogs and cats be vaccinated for rabies. Veterinary care must be provided without delay when necessary. Within 5 business days of receipt of a dog, but before sale of any dog, the dealer shall have a veterinarian examine the dog to determine if the animal has any medical condition that adversely affect its health. For animals 18 months or older, such exam shall include a diagnosis of any congenital condition that adversely affects health. Any animal with a contagious disease must be separated from the other animals. If the animal has a problem that requires euthanasia, the veterinarian shall administer it without delay. If an animal is returned to the dealer because of medical problems, the dealer shall without delay provide the animal with veterinary care.
- What kind of information must be provided on the records of sale?
Certain records regarding origin, identification, and medical care must be provided to purchasers of animals. For detailed information, see Article 26-A and the Pet Dealer section under the General Business Law.
- What is the youngest age at which an animal can be sold?
No younger than 8 weeks.
- What type of license do pet dealers need?
A license issued by the Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets, other than in those cities and counties to which the Commissioner has delegated authority to issue such licenses. Licenses must be conspicuously displayed on premises where the animals are kept for sale. If the pet dealer advertises, each advertisement must contain the pet dealer’s license number.
- How often are pet dealers inspected?
At a minimum once a year, except for those who sell fewer than 25 animals in which case inspections are discretionary.
- What kind of qualifications must the inspectors or those responding to complaints have?
They shall be specifically trained in the proper care of cats and dogs and in the investigation of cruelty to animals.
- What happens if a pet dealer violates the law?
In addition to other penalties, the Commissioner may decline to grant or renew, or may suspend or revoke, a pet dealer’s license following a formal hearing on the matter. Also, he may be subject to penalty of not less than 50 dollars but not more than 1,000 dollars for each violation.
What you can do:
- If you see any animals living in poor conditions or appearing in ill health in a pet store, bring it to the attention of the pet store owner. If it is not resolved, then document all identifying information that you can (name and address of pet store, etc.) and call the AM Dept. at the number provided above. If you see blatant neglect, contact your local SPCA or police department.
- Avoid purchasing animals from pet stores; it only encourages the breeding of more animals. Instead, go to your local shelter to adopt a pet.
- Support NYSHA so we can continue to work on improving animal protective legislation.
New York State Humane Association Humane Review, Vol.XVI, No.1, Spring 2002.