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.

UPDATE March 2, 2011: Councilman Vallone recently addressed one of DFNY's criticisms, although his comments gravely concern us. DFNY questions his understanding of the new law.

Our members prepared a more detailed analysis of New York City's deeply flawed new law. DFNY continues to urge NYC residents as well as dog and animal lovers everywhere to join us in asking the New York City Council to repeal 10/2011 in its entirety.


Nora Edwards said...

Very well put.

Jane Baldwin said...

Very well written. It makes one wonder what is coming next for dog owners. We all definitely need to fight this.

Jane Baldwin

bealsie2 said...

I would like to issue a challenge to the New York City Council, Mr. Bloomberg, Mr. Kwan, and the members of the other animal rights organizations you thanked so profusely for their help in drafting this legislation. Each of you go to one of the city’s animal shelters, pick out a young adolescent, mid-sized male dog to work with, and teach him to walk politely on a leash with you for the length of a city block. You don't even have to take him home, just commit to working with him a couple times a week. I’ll even give you a month to accomplish this. Of course, you are bound by the strictures of your new law. Let me know how you make out. I can do it, can you? And if you can’t, how do you expect your constituents to?

Anonymous said...

Ummm, are you saying that people need 3 uninterrupted hours to eat a picnic meal?

Or that dog shows would collapse w/out the use of choke collars? Why can't handlers use buckle collars or martingales?

Your hyperbole is as ridiculous as that of the animal rights examples you cite.

Get real. This law is intended to end the abuse suffered by countless dogs subjected to being tied out for hours -- and often their entire lives -- in all kinds of weather and/or the misuse of inappropriate and all-too-often misused harmful collars.

The only New York organization dedicated to protecting the rights of caring dog owners said...

Unfortunately, Anonymous, it isn't hyperbole. It appears that, like just about everybody else that thinks the new law is so wonderful, you haven't read it.

To quote:

"Any person who tethers, leashes, fastens, secures, restrains, chains or ties an animal to a stationary object outdoors for a permissible period of time shall provide such animal with adequate food, water and shelter, and shall restrain the animal with a device having swivels at both ends .

Every leash I own has a wrist loop at one end, and a clasp of some sort on the other. I've never seen a leash with "swivels" at both ends. Have you?

Read the law, and weep.

bealsie2 said...

To Anonymous -

Have you actually read the text of the law? I suggest you do so, without emotion, and try to understand exactly what the words say. Laying aside the intent of the law, the language of the law does not make sense. And no, it does not take 3 hours to eat a picnic lunch in the park. But how can you take your dog with you when it will be illegal to restrain him in any manner that allows him to leave your property? How does that add to the quality of life of your pet if you can no longer legally take him off your property while he is being restrained, but you cannot legally walk him in NYC unless he is on a leash?
DFNY does not engage in hyperbole. DFNY engages in critical reading and critical thinking. I would humbly suggest that you attempt the same exercise.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous is correct in that it is far from obvious how the law would apply to picnics in particular, leaving the reader to only guess as to what the problem is. A better-written critique would have cited the specific language of the bill then and there.

I'm guessing the problem is indeed with the "swivels on both ends" as well as the language about entanglement.

The language on choke collars is overbroad (it should not say "leash") but the actual intent is pretty clear - you aren't supposed to tie off a dog with one.

And the hysteria over how the line shouldn't be long enough "to allow the animal to move outside of its owner’s property" is just silly. The intent is completely clear there.

The only New York organization dedicated to protecting the rights of caring dog owners said...

The plain language of the law prohibits fixing a "leash" to a stationary object--for any amount of time, for any reason, under any circumstances--unless there are "swivels" at each end of the leash/tether/whatever.

This is not a matter of "intent." The language is very clear and judges have very little discretion when the words on the paper are staring them in the face.

Plus, please remember, that the dog owner will have been charged with a violation of city law, and would probably need to invest a few thousand dollars in an attorney's retainer fee before they even having an opportunity to discuss "intent."

The law is shockingly badly written. It needs to be repealed in its entirety.

bealsie2 said...

The "intent" of the law may be clear. The language is not. What exactly is your view of the "intent" of the law? Because the language says -
Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision a of this section, no person shall tether, leash, fasten, chain, tie, secure or restrain any animal for any amount of time with a device that:
(1) is a choke collar or pinch collar;
(2) has weights attached or contains links that are more than one-quarter inch thick;
(3) because of its design or placement is likely to become entangled;
(4) is long enough to allow the animal to move outside of its owner's property; and
(5) would allow the restrained animal to move over an object or edge that could result in the strangulation of or injury to such animal.
Now I would assume the "intent" of that language would be to set up conditions under which tethering would be safe for the animal being tethered. However it does not accomplish this. There is that little word "and" in there which requires that all conditions must be met before this clause is violated. So you can tether your dog with a choke collar with half inch links in a manner that will allow the dog to become entangled and jump over a ledge and strangle but it is not illegal under this law as long as the tether does not allow the dog off the property.
Laws are not enforced on "intent" they are enforced on the letter of the law.
This is what comes of 11th hour (literally in this case) changes that are not scrutinized. The law is gibberish.