Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tethering and dogs kenneled outdoors

Does New York State or City restrict the proper tethering of dogs?
New York State allows owners to choose how they may humanely restrain their dogs.

New York City's new ordinance 10/2011 places numerous restrictions and prohibitions on collars, humane restraint and the leashing of pets and other animals.   We urge dog and animal lovers everywhere to call for the repeal of the ordinance, set to take effect on May 1, in its entirety.

Are there requirements for dogs kenneled outdoors in New York?
Yes. Recently New York enacted a law requiring that dogs outdoors be provided proper shelter. Agriculture and Markets Article 26, Section 353 b reads:

Any person who owns or has custody or control of a dog that is left outdoors shall provide it with shelter appropriate to its breed, physical condition and the climate.

This section of NYS law defines appropriate shelter and specifies penalties for owners and caretakers who fail to provide necessary housing.

Check with your municipal clerk for any local law restricting tethering.

Note: Proper tethering is a responsible, humane form of restraint which safeguards both dog and community. Caring owners must exercise caution and adequate supervision of their dogs, regardless of the restraint method they choose to employ.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Dog Federation of NY Urges Repeal of NYC 10/2011
Prohibiting Humane Restraint of Animals

NYC law will impact city residents, events venues and visitors alike

Following news that on February 1, 2011 Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed Int. 425A creating New York City Local Law 10/2011, the Dog Federation of New York calls upon dog and animal lovers everywhere to join DFNY in urging the City Council to set the ordinance aside in its entirety.

Backed by some of the most extreme animal rights organizations in the country, Councilman Peter Vallone Jr.'s poorly considered, poorly drafted ordinance appears to criminalize a number of standard, ordinary practices exercised daily by caring and responsible pet and animal owners. Due to the vague language of the law, visitors and city residents alike will be unable to determine if the many prohibitions and limitations apply to them.

Among the new law's many flaws, it appears that families bringing their dog to the park for a picnic are prohibited from tying the dog's leash to a bench or picnic table while they enjoy their meal.

Because the language of the new law absolutely prohibits the use of "choke" collars for dogs under any circumstances, it jeopardizes the many purebred dog shows which take place each year in New York City, including the Westminster Kennel Club show at Madison Square Garden. Limitations on permissible restraint methods also threaten popular equestrian events, such as the Lipizzaner Stallion shows which also take place at Madison Square Garden.

Because the restrictions, limitations and prohibitions of standard and humane practices apply to all "animals", DFNY fears that circuses, rodeos -- possibly even the City's renowned Bronx Zoo -- may all be negatively impacted.

Local law 10/2011 empowers a host of unauthorized and unqualified individuals to enforce its prohibitions, which may entangle the city in expensive, unnecessary lawsuits.

Most bizarrely of all, the convoluted wording of the law may be interpreted as a prohibition against walking a leashed dog beyond the perimeters of the owner's property.

Many will remember Councilman Vallone's failed attempt to ban
"pit bulls" from the City of New York. PeTA, the radical animal rights organization that calls mothers who serve milk to their children "abusive" and whose members appeared at a Westminster Kennel Club show dressed in the white robes of the Ku Klux Klan, backed both Vallone's "pit bull" proposal and the new law, and testified in its favor.

Another key supporter was the Humane Society of the United States, an organization now under investigation by the Internal Revenue Service for excessive lobbying practices. A "humane" organization in name only, in 2008 HSUS expended less than one half of 1% of its budget on the hands-on care of animals in need. Patrick Kwan of HSUS testified in favor of the Councilman Vallone's proposal.

The best research available on the subject of tethering comes from Cornell University, and indicates that the proper tethering of dogs is a humane and responsible method of restraint. Neither the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA) nor the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) support anti-tethering initiatives. DFNY urges dog and animal owners to exercise caution and adequate supervision, regardless of the restraint method they choose.

Int. 425 was hastily amended in the Committee on Health only three hours before it was passed by the City Council, giving the public no opportunity to review the new text. It appears that no representatives for responsible pet and animal owners and other stakeholders were notified or consulted during the drafting of the proposal. In reading the transcript of the minutes of the January 18th meeting during which this measure was passed, it is obvious from the comments of the council members that the proponents of this local law were somewhat disingenuous in their explanation of its effects and ramifications to their colleagues.

In these difficult times, in which so many New Yorkers struggle to keep their jobs and feed their families, the Dog Federation of New York deeply laments the waste of public funding involved in the consideration of Councilman Vallone's flawed proposal. The potential loss to the local economy if so many dog and other animal shows and events leave New York City is huge.

The members of the Dog Federation of New York believe that all responsible owners of animals share a concern for the well being of pets, work companions and livestock, and we support legislation and legislators that further the goals of animal welfare advocacy. However, by unreasonably restricting humane restraint through irresponsible language, it is clear that New York City's new local law will do far more harm than good.

We encourage caring pet and animal owners everywhere to contact the members of the New York City Council and Mayor Bloomberg to express their shock and deep concern, and to advocate a repeal of Local Law 10/2011 in its entirety.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Municipalities and Dog Licensing

If New York State no longer issues dog licenses, who will? What will the change mean for me and my dogs?

As a cost-cutting measure, as of January 1, 2011, the current role of counties and the New York State Department of Agriculture in the issuance of dog licenses and administration of licensing will be eliminated.

Instead, local governments -- counties, towns and villages -- will assume the responsibility for dog license issuance and the administration of all facets of licensing programs. Local government will also retain 100% of the funds created from license fees, other than surcharges dedicated to the "Animal Population Control Fund."

While state law will still require that dogs over the age of four months be licensed, each New York county or municipality will issue dog licenses for dogs belonging to its residents, just as New York City does currently for dog owners living in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island.

The NYS Department of Agriculture released guidelines for local governments to summarize the changes and help them prepare for the changes, and is working on a Municipal Dog Licensing Toolkit.

There are two items of particular concern for responsible dog owners:

Beginning in 2011, dog license fees will become exclusively a matter of local policy. Municipalities or counties will establish fees without guidelines from Albany, and it is possible some fees may be set excessively high.

Also beginning in 2011, the statewide bulk rate or "purebred" dog licensing program will cease. Municipalities may choose to offer bulk rate licenses to the owners of multiple dogs, or they may not.

The Dog Federation of New York urges concerned dog owners to participate in the planning and decision-making process as each New York municipality and/or county develops its policies and procedures.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Village of Rockville Center Ordinance Restricts Pet Ownership,
Violates New York State Law

Pet Ordinance Threatens Dog Ownership and Encroaches on Civil Rights

New York, NY, June 25, 2010 - The Dog Federation of New York (DFNY), a statewide coalition of dog owners and dog-related organizations, today voiced grave concern over a local ordinance approved by the Village of Rockville Center Board of Trustees that places restrictions on responsible and caring dog owners, disregards New York State law and raises civil rights issues.

Elected officials in Rockville Center, New York recently approved Local Law 9, which prohibits ownership of Rottweilers and “pit bulls” in direct violation of the long-standing New York state law that protects residents from negative stereotyping and breed discrimination. Rockville Center’s new local law bans ownership of dogs based solely on the dog’s physical appearance and interferes with their owners’ right to be heard by a judge.

“Rockville Center’s pet owners are not second class citizens. They are entitled to the same protections afforded by state law that every other New York resident enjoys,” said DFNY spokesperson Mahlon Goer. “In New York dogs, and dog owners, are judged on their behavior, not their appearance.”

New York’s statewide laws protecting the public from dangerous dogs of any breed or type, regardless of appearance, are among the most stringent in the nation. “New Yorkers deserve laws based on facts, not fear,” Ms. Goer continued. “There is no scientific basis for breed specific laws or other trendy suggestions to restrict the humane care and ownership of pets. The unbiased, fair enforcement of reasonable animal control provisions is the key, not new laws.”

Through its attorney, the Dog Federation of New York sent a letter to the Village Board of Trustees urging officials to immediately repeal Local Law 9 and reminding them that an illegal breed specific law would face challenges in court. Rockville Center residents who fear they will be negatively impacted by the ordinance should contact DFNY as soon as possible.

“Local Law 9 is unnecessary and interferes with lawful dog owners. It creates a climate of fear and confusion that is certain to drive shelter surrenders up”, said Ms. Goer. “DFNY would be pleased to work with the Village of Rockville Center on a proactive approach to support responsible dog ownership and ensure quality of life for all citizens.”

About the Dog Federation of New York
The Dog Federation of New York is committed to helping New York communities remain dog-friendly and dog-safe by supporting and strengthening responsible dog ownership initiatives in New York State. On the web at

Friday, March 6, 2009

New York Dogfighting Laws

I hear that New York's laws on dogfighting are not very strong, and that New York is a center of organized dogfighting operations. Is that true?

No data supports such internet rumors. To address this concern, DFNY published the following press release.

Dog Federation of New York Sets Record Straight on
New York’s Dog and Animal Fighting Statutes

Group Expresses Concern that Inaccurate Information May Encourage Mistrust and Fear

March 5, 2009 – New York, NY -- Responding to irresponsibly-worded statements circulating on the internet regarding New York’s dog and animal fighting statutes, members of the Dog Federation of New York (DFNY) today provided the facts for worried pet lovers. Contrary to recent media coverage, New York’s anti-dogfighting statutes are among the most comprehensive in the nation.

"Only a person unfamiliar with our laws and how they function would describe them as ‘weak’," commented Mahlon Goer, spokesperson. “Under state law, a number of felony charges are available to prosecutors in dog-fighting cases. Our statutes and penalties are in line with, and in some cases exceed, those of neighboring states.”

“We were disappointed to see poorly-considered and speculative comments circulating on the web. Bad information only deepens misunderstanding, and encourages heightened levels of mistrust and fear of both dogs and dog owners. New Yorkers deserve public policy based on fact, not fear.”

The abhorrent crimes of organized dog and animal-fighting are serious offenses in New York, and DFNY hastened to correct any mistaken impressions that these crimes are common.

The New York-based ASPCA enforces animal cruelty laws, including anti-dogfighting statutes, in the City of New York. The ASPCA cautions that dogfighting exists all over the United States, but that it is not prevalent in New York City.

Information made available by the New York State Department of Criminal Justice indicates that for the last ten years, the number of convictions per year on animal-fighting charges in New York City typically hovers in the very low single digits. For several years out of the last ten, no convictions on animal-fighting charges were recorded for New York City. Statistics for New York State follow a similar pattern.

“Dogfighting is a heinous crime with serious consequences. We want to make sure that New York’s caring dog owners and pet lovers, and our public officials, have the facts before them,” said Ms. Goer. DFNY offers its resources and assistance to the public and community leaders to help educate the public on New York’s dog and animal fighting statutes and related issues. The group’s website offers information on these topics.

About the Dog Federation of New York:

The Dog Federation of New York is a statewide coalition of dog clubs, organizations and individual dog owners that serves the public interest by educating citizens and public officials on dog safety and responsible dog ownership. DFNY advocates for strong, and humane dog-related legislation and is committed to working with municipalities across the state to implement preventative dog safety education.

Read New York State's statutes on animal fighting.

Visit the Dog Federation of New York on the web.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Access to public space

What barriers to reasonable access to public spaces exist for New York dog owners?

Communities everywhere strive to balance the needs of both dog owners and non-dog owners with respect to use of public facilities and parks. New York State law protects the interests of law-abiding dog owners in several ways:

Only New York State may issue dog licenses, and municipalities may charge additional fees only to cover reasonable costs incurred in providing special services or amenities to the public.

Additionally, a long tradition of reciprocity between municipalities exists in New York. Non-residents should not be charged unreasonable extra fees for the use of public facilities.

The Dog Federation of New York vigorously supports the efforts of dog owners in New Rochelle (Westchester County) in their complaint against the City of New Rochelle and its unacceptable ordinance which severely restricts access to a public park there.

Recent press release follows below.

Westchester Dog Owners Win Appeals Court Decision

Dog Federation Of New York celebrates decision allowing challenge to
unlawful, discriminatory public policies targeting law-abiding dog owners

New York, NY – October 15, 2008 - The Dog Federation of New York (DFNY), appearing as amicus curiae in the case of During et. al v. The City of New Rochelle, applauds a decision from the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division, Second Department, reversing a lower court dismissal of the case. During oral argument on September 15, the Presiding Judge advised the City of New Rochelle to try to settle with local dog owners. The case is remitted to the Supreme Court, Westchester County for further proceedings.

The New Rochelle dog owners seek nullification of the city’s unprecedented, illegal, and punitive local ordinance, which unfairly requires them to obtain extra photo identifications and licenses, and pay special additional fees, simply to walk a dog in a public park. Dog walkers with leashed dogs in Ward Acres Park in New Rochelle are subject to a disturbing stop-and-search policy in which police officers are instructed to stop people walking their dogs and demand to see a special “Ward Acres Dog Permit” photo identification. Persons unable to produce the special licenses are asked to leave the park and, under the terms of the Ordinance, they are potentially subject to fines and/or imprisonment.

"As a statewide coalition of law-abiding dog owners, we are deeply concerned when a municipality illegally targets residents and tax-payers whose only ‘crime’ is walking a dog in a public place," stated DFNY spokesperson Mahlon Goer. “New Rochelle residents and non-residents alike are not second class citizens, and state law protects them from unwarranted searches, special license requirements, extra taxes, and other infringements of their civil liberties.”

"Ward Acres was the last park in New Rochelle open to people who want to walk their dogs, and now the City Council seems bent on forcing them out of it. Close to half of all households in New York include at least one dog, and we were surprised and dismayed to see that a better accommodation could not be worked out,” Goer continued. “Our goal is to promote dog-friendly and dog-safe communities for all New Yorkers. We are confident that better solutions are available.”

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP in New York City represented the Dog Federation of New York in the appeal. The case was originally filed on April 16, 2007, as Dennis C. During, Michael S. Friscia and Marci Malone v. The City of New Rochelle in New York Supreme Court, Westchester County, Hon. W. D. Donovan presiding, Index No. 6561/07.

For further information on the amicus brief, please contact the Dog Federation of New York. A copy of the appeals court decision is available via this link.

To learn more about Ward Acres, the Westchester dog-owning community, visit

About the Dog Federation of New York:
The Dog Federation of New York is a statewide coalition of dog clubs, organizations and individual dog owners that serves the public interest by educating citizens and public officials on dog safety and responsible dog ownership. DFNY advocates for strong, and humane dog-related legislation and is committed to working with municipalities across the state.

Visit us on the web at


Saturday, September 6, 2008

Mandatory Spay-Neuter (castration) laws in New York

New York City law differs significantly with New York State on this subject.

Background: Law on dogs seized and impounded in New York State

New York State law regarding impoundment of unidentified strayed and lost dogs (
Ag & Mkts Article 7, section 118) allows dog owners five days from the date the dog is impounded (seized) to reclaim the dog.

If the dog's owner can be identified, state law requires the impounding agency to immediately notify the owner of record, either personally or by certified mail, of the impoundment and procedures for reclaiming the dog. In such cases, dog owners have seven days under state law to reclaim their dogs.

Under state law, the owner forfeits title to the dog once the relevant time period has elapsed. The dog may then be euthanized or sold by the impounding agency.

Municipal laws (other than New York City)

Under state law, municipalities may establish different redemption periods by local law or ordinance, as long as they give dog owners a minimum of three days to reclaim their dog, or seven days if notification is made by mail.

Municipalities may also establish local laws requiring the surgical sterilization of "adopted" dogs:

Any municipality may by local law or ordinance establish additional conditions for adoption including the requirement that adopted dogs shall be spayed or neutered before or after release from custody upon such terms and conditions as the municipality may establish.

New York City requirement for surgical sterilization of all impounded dogs

ADC Title 17, Chapter 8, 17-804, New York City requires that any dog (or cat) released by a shelter be neutered. The law covers not only dogs (and cats) that are being "adopted" out to new owners, it also covers dogs and cats being claimed by their lawful owners.

Exemptions under city ordinance for dogs:

(a) health of the animal, if a licensed veterinarian examines the dog and certifies that surgery endangers its life, or that the animal appears to be under 8 weeks of age

(b) owner establishes status as a show dog "to the satisfaction of the shelter." Note that owners of "show dogs" must be able to demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the shelter, that the dog either has a breed ring show record dating from no more than 12 months prior to impoundment, or has attained the title of "champion." Acceptable registries are the AKC and UKC or similar "to the satisfaction of the shelter."

(c) status as a service dog, proven by the owner "to the satisfaction of the shelter."

Challenges to NYC mandatory sterilization ordinance

There are several serious problems with the New York City ordinance.

The confiscation and destruction of personal property (by surgical removal of a dog's reproductive system) without due process of the law is controversial and highly objectionable to dog owners and civil rights advocates everywhere.

Many dog owners, and the Dog Federation of New York, support and encourage voluntary, funded, low-cost spay-neuter programs. On the other hand, surgical sterilization should be a matter of personal choice, not law.

In New York City the rate of voluntary sterilization is already high. It is unreasonable and facetious to state that requiring sterilization of the rare impounded, intact dog whose owner objects will have any significant impact on unwanted pet population numbers.

Finally, dogs may be impounded through no fault of the owner. The use of mandatory sterilization as a "punishment" is unreasonable in such cases. Dogs can end up at a shelter after accidental release by firefighters, or if they are riding in cars involved in traffic accidents, for example. Dogs may be maliciously released by disgruntled neighbors, or accidentally by children.

Dogs may be released when their owner is the victim of a crime.

Pete Georgoutsos: victim of two crimes

During the summer of 2007, New Jersey resident Pete Georgoutsos made headlines when he challenged the NYC mandatory sterilization requirement. His dog, Spartacus, was picked up stray by the City's Animal Care and Control department after Georgoutsos' truck was vandalized while he visited friends in New York City. The dog was released by the thieves.

Within a matter of hours, Georgoutsos located his dog at a city shelter and requested that the dog be returned to him in the same (intact) state that Spartacus had entered the shelter. The shelter refused, citing the NYC mandatory sterilization requirement for all impounded dogs.

After several hearings, and posting a $10,000 bond, a Brooklyn Supreme Court judge ordered the dog released to his owner, intact -- and he used blistering language to do it:

We'll hold [Spartacus] hostage and then we'll kill him," said [Supreme
Court Judge] Schack. "That's what it sounds like."

The furor over Spartacus and the issues associated with mandatory sterilization requirements continue. Spartacus returned, intact, to his home in New Jersey a year ago. As of this writing, the City of New York is appealing Judge Schack's decision.
Legal precedents against mandatory spay neuter laws in New York

Judge Schack based his decision primarily on the fact that Spartacus was not "stray, unwanted or abandoned." His owner immediately and in clear terms requested that his dog be returned to him, and continued to do so throughout the proceedings.

The Dog Federation of New York recommends that New York dog or cat owners faced with mandatory sterilization of their animals under the New York City ordinance promptly advise the impounding shelter in writing that their dog (or cat) is not "stray, unwanted or abandoned." They should seek the services of a lawyer immediately.