How to Investigate Animal Cruelty in NY State – A Manual of Procedures

Example 24 – Pet Store Complaint

The Complaint

A landlord contacted the animal control officer and reported that foul smells were emanating from a pet store which recently had rented space in his building, but had not yet opened for business. The landlord reported that in addition to regular pet store animals, wildlife, such as baby foxes and a raccoon, were also housed in the pet store. The landlord stated that the pet store owner had not been at the premises in days and the rent was in arrears. Because of the foul smells, the landlord was worried about the fate of the animals and the state of his property.

The animal control officer notified the police. The landlord was willing to sign a statement.

The Response

  1. Based on the information provided by the landlord, the police applied for a search warrant to enter the property.
  2. The police called the animal control officer, as well as the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) because of the wildlife involved, a veterinarian, and the humane agency to form a team to deal with the situation.
  3. The veterinarian and the humane society informed the police that there had been past complaints against the pet store when it was located at other sites. The Department of Environmental Conservation informed the police that the pet store owner had a license to keep specific wildlife for educational purposes, but the animals had to be kept in prescribed conditions.
  4. The police obtained a search warrant and they entered the property along with the team.
  5. All the animals were examined and individually identified. The animals and conditions were photographed.
  6. The DEC called a wildlife rehabilitator to the scene to remove the foxes, flying squirrel, etc. to his facility.
  7. The rest of the animals were removed to the veterinarian’s office and the animal shelter.
  8. Records were created to document the location of the animals and the persons responsible for their care.

Charges Brought

The police charged each of the three partners (owners) of the pet shop with 153 counts of violating Article 26 Section 353 of the Agriculture & Markets Law.

In addition, they were charged by the DEC with violating Section 211.2 of the Environmental Conservation Law, New York Code of Rules and Regulations, Chapter III, Air Resources, Part 211, which deals with air quality. In addition, the DEC plans to revoke the owners’ license to keep wildlife.

Supporting Documents Follow