For some New Yorkers a dog or cat just won’t do

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For some reason, some New Yorkers insist on taking pet ownership to another level. A dog or cat just won’t do. Gerbils, hamsters, ferrets or birds don’t cut it, either.

These New Yorkers only go for unusual pets — whether it’s illegal to have them or not. And in most cases, it is.

Life in the concrete jungle

According to a recent New York Post article, the city has responded to nearly 400 exotic animal complaints since January 2016.

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

Most of the complaints (more than 150) were about people keeping roosters in the concrete jungle. There were 36 complaints about snakes and 30 about turtles.

In one case, a Queens man came to the city’s attention after his neighbors reported that he had roosters.

The man, Mark Singh, denies he did anything wrong, however.

“You feed chickens and they give you eggs. So why not keep chickens?” he wondered. “ One of my neighbors nursed baby raccoons for two years — and they have rabies,” Singh told the Post.

In another case, city health inspectors responded to a report of a Staten Island man who was allegedly keeping venomous snakes as pets. The accused, Gregory Johnson, said he had a permit to keep them.

“The city’s Health Code forbids keeping any animals that are “naturally inclined and capable of inflicting harm” on humans. Rooster keepers face fines of $1,000,” the Post reported.

Exotic pet complaints — by the numbers

According to the Post, the number of reports about illegal pets made to a New York City tip line made from January 1, 2016 to date is roughly the same as those made during the same time period for 2015-2016.

However, there have been more complaints in the Bronx and Queens, and fewer complaints in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island.

In addition to banning potentially harmful animals, the city’s Health Code identifies illegal pets as “any native or exotic wildlife whose possession or sale is prohibited because they are designated as protected or endangered pursuant to any federal, state or local law, regulation, or rule.”

Any animal classified as an illegal pet by the New York Health Department “cannot be sold, given, received, kept, harbored or exhibited in New York City” unless they are kept in an approved facility.

Some of the animals that can be kept as pets include dogs, cats, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, domesticated rabbits and fowl or small birds such as parakeets, parrots, canaries and finches. However, it is only legal to keep these animals as pets as long as “possession of the animal is not otherwise prohibited by law, including federal, state and local laws regulating domestic animals and livestock or protecting wildlife and endangered species.”

For more information about illegal pets in New York city, click here.

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