Stricter New York Pet Store Law Is Upheld, After Appeal Rejected by Court

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Last week, a federal appeals court upheld a New York City law requiring stricter guidelines for pet stores selling dogs and cats.

The law, which went into effect in 2015, requires pet stores to only get their cats and dogs from breeders with a Class A licenses and not dealers, or brokers, who hold a Class B license and would be importing animals from other states.

The other part of the law required animals who are 8 weeks old to be spayed or neutered before being sold.

Related: San Francisco Pet Stores Can Now Only Sell Rescue Dogs and Cats

The New York Pet Welfare Association, a group representing pet shops and dog breeders, fought this law, stating it would hinder the livelihood of some of their members (dog breeders). They sued, stating the 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.”

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with the organization and decided to uphold the law.

“The sourcing and spay/neuter laws address problems of significant importance to the City and its residents,” wrote Judge Edward Korman. “It appears that the City has enforced them for more than a year, with no apparent ill effects.”

Related: The 4 Things You Can Do to Fight Back Against the USDA’s Removal of Animal Welfare Data

Besides decreasing profits for breeders in other parts of the country by blocking them from doing business in New York, The New York Pet Welfare Association argues that by requiring dogs to be spayed at such a young age, it could be detrimental to their health. The AKC, ASPCA and other groups agree, as some believe there are health implications. (The ASPCA did support the law.)

However, the city cites a number of benefits of having stricter guidelines.

“Requiring pet shops to purchase directly from Class A breeders protects consumers by making it impossible to obscure the source of an animal by using a middleman, enhances animal welfare by reducing the incidence of disease and behavioral problems associated with irresponsible breeding, and alleviates the burden of providing care in public shelters for animals abandoned because of such problems,” it claims.

The New York Pet Welfare Association is still deciding if it will appeal.

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