New York State animal protection laws (with comments)

New York State animal protection law.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

New York State’s animal protection laws are comprehensive and extensive which is unsurprising to me as it is one of just two US states which ban cat declawing (Aug 2023). The governing politicians are progressive. Because the law is extensive, I’ve focused on those parts that concern domestic cats and dogs together with other sections which interest me and which should also interest cat and dog owners. I have selectively reproduced the law below from the New York State Senate website. If you want to see the entire animal welfare laws, please visit the Senate website (link). I have briefly commented on sections of the law which are of particular interest to me immediately below (‘highlights’).


Highlights

I quickly cover some “highlights” of the selected portions of the law which are published below. The highlighted sections interest me. I think they’re particularly pertinent to cat and dog ownership.

Declawing

New York State is one of two states in the US at the time of dictating this article where cat declawing is banned throughout the state unless the operation is carried out for therapeutic purposes which is very rare indeed. You can see the relevant section at the base of this article.

Standard

The central portion of this animal welfare law is fairly ‘standard’ and it would seem to go back to the early years of animal welfare law because the rather old-fashioned word “overdrives” is used as a term describing one aspect of animal abuse.

Aggravated cruelty

The word “aggravated” in respect of cruelty to animals means that the cruelty has an added malicious aspect to it being done with particular callousness and therefore it’s a crime which is described as a felony in America i.e. a more serious crime leading to a maximum prison sentence of two years on conviction.

Companion animals in vehicles

New York State has an extensive section on negligently confining a companion animal to a vehicle in hot weather. This is obviously an act of cruelty normally through neglect or carelessness. Interestingly, and wisely, the provisions of the statute allows officials to break into a car to save an animal if the vehicle owner cannot be promptly located. It does not state that a layperson i.e. a passerby can break into a vehicle under the circumstances. I suspect they can and get away with it.

Grooming parlours

Also, wisely, the statute includes a section on animal grooming facilities focusing on drying boxes which, I recall, can lead to the death of pets contained within them. It’s happened before. Hence this section in the statute.

RELATED: Cat at grooming parlour dies and staff cremate her BEFORE owner can find out why

Tattooing

In the past, rarely, I’ve seen tattooed cats particularly hairless cats. Some people like to do it without concern for the welfare of their companion animal. New York State animal protection laws has a section on this which bans the practice unless there is a therapeutic reason for it.

RELATED: Picture of ear tattoo signifying cat has been spayed or neutered

Abandonment

If, like me, you read about cat rescue you see a lot of stories about cats being abandoned at various places; at the roadside, at the back of animal rescue centres or in front of the doors of an animal hospital. If you do this in New York State it’s a misdemeanour or at least potentially. I’ve included this section below.

Antifreeze

There are many stores on the Internet of cats being killed by antifreeze. They like the taste of it and it is highly toxic leading to kidney failure and rapid death. New York State contains a section on “throwing substance injuries to animals in public place”. This in my opinion would include putting down antifreeze to poison cats.

Stealing

Stealing cats and dogs is quite prevalent in some parts of the world. New York state law deals with this and on conviction a cat or dog thief “shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $1000 or by imprisonment not to exceed six months, or both”.

Fur trade

In New York State there is a “prohibition of the selling of fur, hair, skin or flesh of a dog or cat”. The trade in cat and dog meat and cat and dog fur is banned in New York State thankfully. The country with by far the biggest market for cat fur and meat is unsurprisingly China.

Definitions

As you can see immediately below, an animal is defined as “every living creature except a human being”. Technically and perhaps actually this would therefore apply to insects because the general consensus is that insects are animals. What do you think?


Selected sections of New York State’s animal protection law

§ 350. Definitions

1. “Animal,” as used in this article, includes every living creature except a human being;

2. “Torture” or “cruelty” includes every act, omission, or neglect, whereby unjustifiable physical pain, suffering or death is caused or permitted.

5. “Companion animal” or “pet” means any dog or cat, and shall also mean any other domesticated animal normally maintained in or near the household of the owner or person who cares for such other domesticated animal. “Pet” or “companion animal” shall not include a “farm animal” as defined in this section.

§ 353. Overdriving, torturing and injuring animals; failure to provide proper sustenance

Limitation Recognized by:

People v. Curcio , 874 N.Y.S.2d 723, 724+, 22 Misc.3d 907, 907+, 2008 N.Y. Slip Op. 28499, 28499+ (N.Y.City Crim.Ct. Dec 05, 2008) (NO. 2008KN021343)

A person who overdrives, overloads, tortures or cruelly beats or unjustifiably injures, maims, mutilates or kills any animal, whether wild or tame, and whether belonging to himself or to another, or deprives any animal of necessary sustenance, food or drink, or neglects or refuses to furnish it such sustenance or drink, or causes, procures or permits any animal to be overdriven, overloaded, tortured, cruelly beaten, or unjustifiably injured, maimed, mutilated or killed, or to be deprived of necessary food or drink, or who wilfully sets on foot, instigates, engages in, or in any way furthers any act of cruelty to any animal, or any act tending to produce such cruelty, is guilty of a class A misdemeanor and for purposes of paragraph (b) of subdivision one of section 160.10 of the criminal procedure law, shall be treated as a misdemeanor defined in the penal law.

Nothing herein contained shall be construed to prohibit or interfere with any properly conducted scientific tests, experiments or investigations, involving the use of living animals, performed or conducted in laboratories or institutions, which are approved for these purposes by the state commissioner of health. The state commissioner of health shall prescribe the rules under which such approvals shall be granted, including therein standards regarding the care and treatment of any such animals. Such rules shall be published and copies thereof conspicuously posted in each such laboratory or institution. The state commissioner of health or his duly authorized representative shall have the power to inspect such laboratories or institutions to insure compliance with such rules and standards. Each such approval may be revoked at any time for failure to comply with such rules and in any case the approval shall be limited to a period not exceeding one year.

§ 353-a. Aggravated cruelty to animals

1. A person is guilty of aggravated cruelty to animals when, with no justifiable purpose, he or she intentionally kills or intentionally causes serious physical injury to a companion animal with aggravated cruelty. For purposes of this section, “aggravated cruelty” shall mean conduct which: (i) is intended to cause extreme physical pain; or (ii) is done or carried out in an especially depraved or sadistic manner.

2. Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to prohibit or interfere in any way with anyone lawfully engaged in hunting, trapping, or fishing, as provided in article eleven of the environmental conservation law, the dispatch of rabid or diseased animals, as provided in article twenty-one of the public health law, or the dispatch of animals posing a threat to human safety or other animals, where such action is otherwise legally authorized, or any properly conducted scientific tests, experiments, or investigations involving the use of living animals, performed or conducted in laboratories or institutions approved for such purposes by the commissioner of health pursuant to section three hundred fifty-three of this article.

3. Aggravated cruelty to animals is a felony. A defendant convicted of this offense shall be sentenced pursuant to paragraph (b) of subdivision one of section 55.10 of the penal law provided, however, that any term of imprisonment imposed for violation of this section shall be a definite sentence, which may not exceed two years.

§ 353-d. Confinement of companion animals in vehicles: extreme temperatures

1. A person shall not confine a companion animal in a motor vehicle in extreme heat or cold without proper ventilation or other protection from such extreme temperatures where such confinement places the companion animal in imminent danger of death or serious physical injury due to exposure to such extreme heat or cold.

2. Where the operator of such a vehicle cannot be promptly located, a police officer, peace officer, peace officer acting as an agent of a duly incorporated humane society, emergency medical services personnel, paid firefighter, or volunteer firefighter who in the performance of such volunteer firefighter’s duties are directed to respond to a call for assistance for such animal may take necessary steps to remove the animal or animals from the vehicle.

3. Police officers, peace officers, peace officers acting as agents of a duly incorporated humane society, emergency medical services personnel, paid firefighters, or volunteer firefighters who in the performance of such volunteer firefighters’ duties or emergency medical services personnel are directed to respond to a call for assistance for such animal removing an animal or animals from a vehicle pursuant to this section shall place a written notice on or in the vehicle, bearing the name of the officer or agent, and the department or agency and address and other contact information, if available, where the animal or animals will be taken.

4. An animal or animals removed from a vehicle pursuant to this section shall, after receipt of any necessary emergency veterinary treatment, be delivered to the duly incorporated humane society or society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, or designated agent thereof, in the jurisdiction where the animal or animals were seized.

5. Any person who knowingly violates the provisions of subdivision one of this section shall be guilty of a violation, punishable by a fine of not less than fifty dollars nor more than one hundred dollars for a first offense, and a fine of not less than one hundred dollars nor more than two hundred and fifty dollars for a second and subsequent offenses.

6. Officers, emergency medical services personnel and firefighters shall not be held criminally or civilly liable for actions taken reasonably and in good faith in carrying out the provisions of this section.

7. Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to affect any other protections afforded to companion animals under any other provisions of this article.

§ 353-e. Companion animal grooming facilities; prohibited practices

1. As used in this section:

(a) “Cage and box dryer” means a product that is attached to or near a cage or box for the purpose of drying or aiding in the drying of a companion animal contained in a cage or box, and which is capable of functioning without a person manually holding a dryer.

(b) “Companion animal grooming facility” means an establishment where a companion animal may be bathed, brushed, clipped or styled for a fee.

2. No person shall use a cage or box dryer which contains a heating element with the heating element turned on for the purpose of drying or aiding in the drying of a companion animal.

3. Any violation of this section shall be punishable by a civil penalty of not less than two hundred fifty dollars nor more than five hundred dollars for each violation.

4. Nothing contained in this section shall limit or abrogate any claim or cause of action any person may have under common law or by statute. The provisions of this section shall be in addition to any such common law and statutory remedies.

§ 353-f. Companion animal piercing and tattooing prohibited

1. No person shall pierce or cause to have pierced a companion animal unless such piercing provides a medical benefit to the companion animal. Such piercing shall be performed by a licensed veterinarian or under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. Nothing in this section shall be construed to apply to ear tags on rabbits and cavies.

2. No person shall tattoo or cause to have tattooed a companion animal unless such tattoo:

(a) is done in conjunction with a medical procedure for the benefit of the companion animal and to indicate that such medical procedure has been done, provided that such tattoo is not for design purposes; or

(b) is done for the purpose of identification of the companion animal and not for design purposes, and such tattoo includes only such numbers and/or letters allotted by a corporation that, in the regular course of its business, maintains an animal tattoo identification registry.

3. For the purposes of this section, “tattoo” shall mean a mark on the body made with indelible ink or pigments injected beneath the outer layer of the skin.

4. Tattooing done in conjunction with a medical procedure for the benefit of a companion animal that indicates that such medical procedure has been done shall be performed by a licensed veterinarian or under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.

5. Any person who knowingly violates the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a violation punishable pursuant to the penal law.

§ 355. Abandonment of animals

A person being the owner or possessor, or having charge or custody of an animal, who abandons such animal, or leaves it to die in a street, road or public place, or who allows such animal, if it become disabled, to lie in a public street, road or public place more than three hours after he receives notice that it is left disabled, is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment for not more than one year, or by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars, or by both.

§ 362. Throwing substance injurious to animals in public place

A person who wilfully throws, drops or places, or causes to be thrown, dropped or placed upon any road, highway, street or public place, any glass, nails, pieces of metal, or other substance which might wound, disable or injure any animal is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment for not more than one year, or by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars, or by both.

§ 366. Companion animal stealing

It shall be unlawful for any person:

1. To remove or cause to be removed the collar, identification tag or any other identification by which the owner may be ascertained from any dog, cat or any other companion animal as defined in subdivision five of section three hundred fifty of this chapter, or to entice any identified dog, cat or other such companion animal into or out of any house or enclosure for the purpose of removing its collar, tag or any other identification, except with the owner’s permission;

2. To entice, seize or molest any companion animal, while it is being held or led by any person or while it is properly muzzled or wearing a collar with an identification tag attached, except where such action is incidental to the enforcement of some law or regulation;

3. To transport any companion animal, not lawfully in his possession, for the purpose of killing or selling such companion animal.

Any person violating any of the provisions of this section, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars, or by imprisonment not to exceed six months, or by both.

§ 377-a. Spaying and neutering of dogs and cats

1. The legislature finds that the uncontrolled breeding of dogs and cats in the state results in an overabundance of puppies and kittens. More puppies and kittens are produced than responsible homes for them can be provided. This leads to many of such animals becoming stray and suffering privation and death, being impounded and destroyed at great expense to the community and constituting a public nuisance and health hazard. It is therefore declared to be the public policy of New York state that every feasible humane means of reducing the production of unwanted puppies and kittens be encouraged.

2. No animal shelter, pound, dog control officer, humane society, dog or cat protective association, or duly incorporated society for the prevention of cruelty to animals shall release any dog or cat for adoption to any person unless prior thereto:

(a) the dog or cat has been spayed or neutered; or

(b) the person intending to adopt the dog or cat shall have executed a written agreement with the animal shelter, pound, dog control officer, humane society, dog or cat protective association, or duly incorporated society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, to have the dog or cat spayed or neutered within thirty days from the adoption date, or in the case of a dog or cat which has not yet reached sexual maturity, within thirty days of the dog or cat reaching six months of age. The person intending to adopt the dog or cat shall deposit with the animal shelter, pound, dog control officer, humane society, dog or cat protective association, or duly incorporated society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, an amount of not less than thirty-five dollars. Not more than every two years, the commissioner, after holding a public hearing, may raise the amount to be deposited to reflect rising costs; or

(c) the person intending to adopt the dog or cat shall have executed a written agreement with the animal shelter, pound, dog control officer, humane society, dog or cat protective association or society for the prevention of cruelty to animals to have the dog or cat spayed or neutered within thirty days from the adoption date, or in the case of a dog or cat which has not yet reached sexual maturity, within thirty days of the dog or cat reaching six months of age. The person intending to adopt the dog or cat shall have paid an adoption fee which includes the cost of the spay or neuter procedure. The written agreement shall require that the animal shelter, pound, dog control officer, humane society, dog or cat protective association or society for the prevention of cruelty to animals from which the dog or cat is adopted bear the cost of the spay or neuter procedure.

3. For the purposes of this section, the age of the animal at the time of adoption shall be determined by the animal shelter, pound, dog control officer, humane society, dog or cat protective association, or duly incorporated society for the prevention of cruelty to animals that releases the animal for adoption and such age shall be clearly written on the written agreement by the animal shelter, pound, dog control officer, humane society, dog or cat protective association, or duly incorporated society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, prior to the agreement being executed by the person adopting the animal.

4. Any deposit collected pursuant to paragraph (b) of subdivision two of this section that is not claimed within ninety days of its collection, or if the deposit is for an animal under six months of age, within sixty days after the animal has reached six months of age, shall be deposited in the animal population control fund established pursuant to section ninety-seven-xx of the state finance law.

Deposits collected pursuant to paragraph (b) of subdivision two of this section shall be refunded to the adopter upon presentation to the animal shelter, pound, dog control officer, humane society, dog and cat protective association, or duly incorporated society for the prevention of cruelty to animals of written documentation from a licensed veterinarian that the dog or cat has been spayed or neutered, provided that the animal has been spayed or neutered within the time specified in the written agreement, or that because of old age or other health reasons, as certified by a licensed veterinarian examining the dog or cat, spaying or neutering would endanger the animal’s life.

5. Nothing contained in this section shall prevent any town, city, village or county in New York state from enacting a local law or ordinance requiring that animal shelters, pounds, dog control officers, humane societies, dog or cat protective associations and duly incorporated societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals within such town, city, village or county spay or neuter dogs and cats prior to releasing such animals for adoption, provided that such local law or ordinance may require spaying or neutering at an age earlier, but in no event later than that required in this section, except where because of advanced age or other health reasons, as certified by a licensed veterinarian who has examined the dog or cat, spaying or neutering would endanger the life of the animal. A town, city, village or county in New York state that enacts such a local law or ordinance shall be exempt from the provisions of this section.

§ 379. Prohibition of the selling of fur, hair, skin or flesh of a dog or cat

1. It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, partnership or corporation to knowingly import, sell, offer for sale, manufacture, distribute, transport or otherwise market or trade in the fur, hair, skin or flesh of a domesticated dog (canis familiaris) or domesticated cat (felis catus or domesticus), whether domestically raised or imported from another country, or any product or item containing or comprised of the fur, hair, skin or flesh of a dog or cat. As used in this section the term “domesticated dog or cat” shall not mean or include coyote (ranis latrans), fox (vulpes volpes, vulpes cinereoargenteus), lynx (felis lynx) or bobcat (felis rufus).

2. Manufacturers or suppliers shall provide certification to each retailer that any fur, hair, skin or flesh contained in such items is not derived from domesticated dog or domesticated cat.

3. The commissioner shall establish a standard for the certification required by the provisions of subdivision two of this section on the effective date of this section.

4. A violation of this section shall be punishable by a civil penalty of up to one thousand dollars for an individual and up to five thousand dollars for a corporation for the first violation. Any subsequent violation shall be punishable by a civil penalty of up to twenty-five thousand dollars.

5. Any civil penalties collected pursuant to this section of law are payable to the animal population control fund established pursuant to section ninety-seven-xx of the state finance law.

6. (a) No provision of this section shall be construed to prohibit or interfere with any properly conducted scientific tests, experiments or investigations involving the use of dog or cat fur or flesh, performed or conducted in laboratories or institutions, which are approved for these purposes by the state commissioner of health in accordance with section three hundred fifty-three of this article.

(b) No provision of this section shall be construed to prohibit any person, firm, partnership or corporation from importing, selling, offering for sale, manufacturing, distributing, transporting, or otherwise marketing or trading in the fur, hair, skin, or flesh of a domesticated dog or cat for the purposes of conducting scientific tests, experiments or investigations that are to be performed or conducted in laboratories or institutions, which are approved for these purposes by the state commissioner of health in accordance with section three hundred fifty-three of this article.

§ 381. Prohibition of the declawing of cats

1. No person shall perform an onychectomy (declawing), partial or complete phalangectomy or tendonectomy procedure by any means on a cat within the state of New York, except when necessary for a therapeutic purpose. Therapeutic purpose means the necessity to address the physical medical condition of the cat, such as an existing or recurring illness, infection, disease, injury or abnormal condition in the claw that compromises the cat’s health. Therapeutic purpose does not include cosmetic or aesthetic reasons or reasons of convenience in keeping or handling the cat.

2. Any person who performs an onychectomy, partial or complete phalangectomy or tendonectomy procedure on any cat within the state of New York in violation of the provisions of subdivision one of this section shall be punishable by a civil penalty not to exceed one thousand dollars.

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