Federal appeals court sides with New York City on pet law

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By siding with New York City regarding a 2015 law that restricts pet sales, the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals took a big step towards protecting dogs, cats and their owners.

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In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

According to recent reports, the law opposed by the New York Pet Welfare Association “said pet shops could only obtain dogs and cats from federally licensed breeders with clean recent animal welfare records, and could not sell dogs and cats at least eight weeks old and weighing two pounds unless they were sterilized.”

Proponents say the law promotes the sale of healthy dogs and cats. By stipulating that pets are spayed or neutered before they are sold, it helps ensure that they don’t add to the number of unwanted dogs and cats in the city by having puppies and kittens.

Two for two

The New York Pet Welfare Association (NYPWA) — which represents those most affected by the measure — has voiced strenuous objections, however. Specifically, it claims the 2015 law “unconstitutionally burdened commerce by favoring in-state animal rescuers and shelters over out-of-state breeders, and was pre-empted by state veterinary medicine laws.”

At the end of a 29-page document in which he summarized and analyzed the arguments made by both parties, Judge Edward Korman found the New York Pet Welfare Association’s claims lack merit.

“The Sourcing and Spay/Neuter Laws address problems of significant
importance to the City and its residents. It appears that the City has enforced them for more than a year, with no apparent ill effects,” Korman wrote. “Because the challenged laws are not preempted by either state or federal law, and do not offend the Commerce Clause, we Affirm the district court’s order dismissing NYPWA’s complaint.”

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York also sided with the city in a ruling issued two years ago.

Undaunted, the NYPWA is now considering another appeal. In the meantime, as a spokesman for New York City’s Law Department told the New York media, proponents are savoring their second victory.

“We are pleased that the court upheld this common sense legislation, which helps ensure that cats and dogs are humanely sourced and that consumers can make informed choices when bringing pets into their homes,” Nick Paolucci told Reuters.

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