Council will also vote on package of bills ensuring humane treatment of animals in city pet shops

City Hall – Today the Council will vote on legislation requiring all social adult day care facilities in the City to register with the Department for the Aging and comply with regulations developed by New York State. Additionally, the Council will vote on a package of bills addressing humane treatment of animals in city pet shops.

Social Adult Day Care Regulation

Social adult day care programs provide functionally impaired individuals—such as those suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia—with personal care, nutritious meals, and the opportunity to socialize in a safe, supervised setting. While New York State has developed regulations for adult day care facilities, they currently apply only to programs that receive direct funding from the State or the City. As a result, New York City has seen a surge in unregulated social adult day care programs engaging in questionable practices.

Many of these unregulated programs are funded through managed long term care companies (MLTCs), and are compensated for each additional participant they enroll for social adult day care, often regardless of whether the participant is actually functionally impaired. This creates the potential for exploitative practices at the expense of a vulnerable population, and raises questions about misuse of Medicaid dollars.

Introduction 358-A, sponsored by Council Member Margaret Chin, would require that all social adult day care programs register with the Department for the Aging and adhere to basic standards on participant eligibility, program services and administration, staffing, and facilities. Failure to register or adhere to regulations would result in a civil penalty of between $250 and $1,000 per day.

The law would take effect 180 days after enactment; however, penalties for violating program standards would not be assessed until one year after the law’s enactment.

“Seniors are a vulnerable population who should not be exploited or taken advantage of,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “With this legislation, we will hold all social adult day care programs accountable for their practices and ensure that participants are eligible and enrolled for legitimate reasons.”

“I have spent years working on this issue because it is unacceptable for our seniors to have anything less than the best possible care in facilities that are held to strict standards,” said Council Member Margaret Chin, Chair of the Council’s Committee on Aging. “I am proud that our legislation creates the oversight and enforcement necessary to protect the vulnerable seniors who attend social adult day care, while also preventing the misuse or waste of Medicaid funds at these centers. I am also grateful that Speaker Mark-Viverito and so many of my Council colleagues have joined me in stepping up to address this fundamental problem, which has gone unchecked for far too long and which affects the welfare of seniors and their families in all of our communities.”

“Today’s legislation will protect our most vulnerable from predatory pop-up programs by mandating registration requirements and imposing fines upon those who fail to provide basic health and safety measures,” said Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of the Committee on Health. “It will ensure all eligible seniors receive high-quality care while preventing abuse of the frail and Medicaid dollars and is the culmination of years of advocacy by the Council.”

Pet Shop Regulations

New Yorkers who want to purchase a pet should be able to rely on a pet shop’s assurances that its animals have been bred in a safe and healthy manner and not in a puppy mill. Unfortunately, pet shops that sell cats, dogs, and rabbits in New York City too often obtain the animals they sell from distant breeders who they have never met, whose facilities they have never inspected, and with whom they have had no direct contact. Many pet shops rely on brokers who sell animals from unregulated sources and breeding facilities that have been cited for violations of the Animal Welfare Act, though they represent that their animals come from breeders who meet or exceed federal standards of care. Based on such assurances, many pet shops call themselves “puppy mill free”, thereby potentially deceiving consumers.
Introduction 55-A, sponsored by Council Member Elizabeth Crowley and Council Member Corey Johnson, would require that pet shops obtain their dogs and cats directly from breeders licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture(USDA). The bill would prohibit the sale of dogs and cats obtained from breeders who have recently been cited or penalized by the USDA for serious violations of the Animal Welfare Act. Additionally, all pet shops in New York City would be required to obtain an operating permit issued by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. In order to obtain a permit, the applicant would be required to certify that during the two years preceding the date of the application, the pet shop in question had not sold any animals prohibited under this bill. The bill would also require pet shops to provide USDA inspection information about the breeder of any animal upon the request of a purchasers or prospective purchasers.

The legislation would take effect on June 1, 2015. However, the requirement to obtain a permit would take effect on January 1, 2016. A violation of any provision of this law or of the permit would be subject to a $500 fine. Violations that continue for more than one day would be considered a separate violation for each day. A violation in connection with the sale of more than one animal would be considered a separate violation with for each animal. Animals in pet shops obtained from prohibited sources and animals in pet shops operating out with the required permit would be subject to seizure and forfeiture.

The Animal Abuse Registry Act mandates the establishment of an animal abuse registry listing persons 18 or older who reside in New York City and have been convicted of animal abuse crimes. The act prohibits pet shops from selling animals to a person whose name appears on the registry. Introduction 73-A, sponsored by Council Member Johnson, would change the definition of “pet shop” in the Animal Abuse Registry Act to include shops that sell cats and dogs, reflecting the change to State law that now gives the City jurisdiction over pet shops that sell cats and dogs.

Introduction 136-A, sponsored by Council Member Elizabeth Crowley and Council Member Corey Johnson, would amend the Animal Shelters and Sterilization Act to prohibit the sale of any dog or cat in any pet store unless such animal has been spayed or neutered. The legislation would require that such procedures be performed by a licensed veterinarian and that the animals be no younger than eight weeks and weigh no less than two pounds. The bill would also prohibit a pet shop from releasing any dog to a customer who resides in New York City, unless such customer first completes a dog license application and tenders to the pet store the dog license application fee. Pet shops would be required to report information about all dogs sold to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on a monthly basis.

A pet shop that violates this law would be subject to a penalty of $500 per violation.

Introduction 146-A, sponsored by Council Member Corey Johnson, would amend the Animal Shelter and Sterilization Act to prohibit a pet shop from releasing a cat or dog to a purchaser until such dog or cat has been implanted with a microchip, either by the source where the pet shop obtained such animal or by a licensed veterinarian at the direction of such pet shop, and such microchip has been registered with the purchaser’s contact information. The legislation would require pet shops to maintain records of the date of sale and the microchip registration information for a period of ten years.

Pet shops that allow shelters and non-profit rescues to use their property for the purpose of making animals available for adoption would be exempt from the regulations and penalties within these four bills only with respect to those animals, provided such shop does not have an ownership interest in the animals available for adoption, and does not derive a fee for providing such adoption services.

“Today’s package of historic animal legislation represents the culmination of a year of work by the Council to ensure the safe care and treatment of all pets,” said Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of the Committee on Health. “Combined, these bills will regulate irresponsible breeders‎, prevent overpopulation, provide for animals to be safely accounted for and ensure that abusers are unable to obtain animals. I am grateful to Council Member Crowley for her leadership on this issue and to all my colleagues for their support.”

“After years of tireless work, the passage of today’s historic legislative package will make New York City a national leader in animal rights,” said Council Member Elizabeth Crowley. “Often, pet owners are given misleading information when buying a pet from a pet shop. Today’s bills will help ensure humane treatment and breeding of all new pets purchased in New York City and establish much-needed transparency for concerned consumers. I want to thank Speaker Mark-Viverito, Council Member Johnson and all of the advocates who have worked so hard over the years to make these reforms possible.”