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New York State does not restrict the number of companion animals one can legally keep, but many localities have laws that contain such limits. New York State Environmental Conservation Law Section 11-0512 prohibits individuals from keeping wild animals as pets. For more information on what constitutes a wild animal, contact your local government and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.
Dog licensing: In Nassau County, dogs four months and older must be licensed. The clerk in the town where the dog resides issues the license. The license application must be accompanied by a certificate of rabies vaccination or a statement certified by a licensed veterinarian that the life of the dog would be endangered by the vaccine because of old age or another reason. The cost of the license is determined by the municipality issuing the license. Municipalities may exempt certain dogs from their licensing fees.
Upon issuance of a license, the dog is assigned an identification number which is imprinted on a dog tag that must be affixed to the dog’s collar. Check with the clerk of your local municipality to determine where and how to license your dog and if you are exempt from its licensing fees.
Dangerous Dogs: Any person who witnesses an attack or threatened attack by a dog upon a person or domesticated animal may file a complaint with their local municipality or court to have the dog declared a “dangerous dog.” A court hearing must be held within five days. At the hearing, the complainant must prove that the dog is “dangerous.” If the court finds that the dog’s conduct was unprovoked or unreasonable, it will be declared “dangerous” and the court will order the dog to be spayed/neutered, microchipped, and/or reasonably restrained in the future. Municipalities can adopt their own dangerous dog programs which may be more stringent than the provisions under state law so it is important to check with your village, city, and town.
Veterinarian Issues: You are entitled to receive competent services and an explanation of the services and their cost. Upon your written request, you are also entitled to your records relating to the examination and treatment of the animal, including x-rays and diagnostic tests. Veterinarians must provide the records within a reasonable time and for a reasonable charge.
Dog and Cat Sales: New York’s pet sale law provides rights to consumers who purchase a dog or cat from a pet store or breeder. If within 14 days of the sale of a dog or cat (or the receipt from the pet dealer of a notice stating the consumer’s rights) a veterinarian certifies that the animal to be unfit for purchase due to illness, congenital malformation, or symptoms of a contagious or infectious disease, the purchaser has the right to a refund, exchange and/or reimbursement for reasonable veterinarian’s fees. Pet dealers also must provide a purchaser with information on the animal’s source and medical history. This is only a general summary and those seeking protection should consult with an attorney. .
For information about New York’s pet sale law, see www.ag.ny.gov/bureaus/consumer_frauds/tips/pet_lemon_law.html.
Feeding Animals Outdoors: The Nassau County Health Department regulations do not specifically prohibit feeding animals outdoors. The regulations require that the food be placed in a suitable container and in such a manner as to prevent it from becoming a potential food source for rodents. To obtain a copy of the specific regulation governing the outdoor feeding of animals in Nassau County, contact the Nassau County Health Department at 516-227-9715. Also check with your city, village and town to see if they have a local law or rule to address feeding animals outdoors.
The information provided by the Nassau County Bar Association is not meant to serve as specific legal advice for a particular situation or as a substitute for consultation with a lawyer. If you require the services of a lawyer, you may call the Nassau County Lawyer Referral Service at (516) 747-4832, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to www.nassaubar.org.