Proposed Legislation Would Make It Difficult To Own A Dog In New York State- April 2004
   Assemblyman Peter Rivera has proposed bill A10169 that is very restrictive, and would make it extremely difficult to own a dog in this state. The key elements of the bill:
• Requires every dog owner to obtain liability insurance for his or her dog, regardless of temperament or behavior.
• Allows the Agriculture Commissioner to make determinations on which breed of dogs should be considered “dangerous” based on statistics, which would violate an existing New York State Law that prohibits such “ breed specific legislation”.
• Would permit insurance companies to charge higher premiums for dogs that have been designated as “dangerous breeds”
• Require owners to show proof of insurance when obtaining a license for their pet. In addition, the dog would be issued an orange tag that must be worn at all times.
• Authorizes impoundment of uninsured dogs. Owners would be given ten days to obtain insurance, and they would be forced to pay $15.00 per day for impoundment fees. Owners who do not comply will be forced to give up their dogs.
• Owners who do not license or insure their dogs will face fines starting at $100.
   A10169 also would require breeders, or entities, who sell or offer for adoption four or more dogs per year to:
• Inform new dog owners about licensing and insurance requirements
• Obtain proof of licensing and insurance prior to transferring the dog.
• Post a listing of breeds determined to be “dangerous” by the Commissioner.
   All of the kennel and breed clubs have banded together in New York State to fight this, and a companion bill, this proposed legislation, because when enforced the existing New York State Dangerous Dog Law effectively brings to justice irresponsible dog owners. Moreover, A10169 will not compel irresponsible dog owners to comply with new laws. A10169 unfairly punishes responsible owners and breeders, who may find that it is too costly to keep their pets. Consequently, many owners may find it too difficult to comply with the new laws, and have no recourse other than to abandon their animals. This would place heavy burdens on local dog shelters, rescue organizations and other such facilities that would be forced to care for, and feed the dogs. The animal shelters would become overcrowded, so they would be forced to euthanize the majority of the breeds that were determined to be dangerous by the Commissioner. Subsequently, the taxpayers would ultimately have to bear the cost of caring for, or disposing of the large number of animals that would find themselves homeless if this bill were passed.
   Local municipalities would find that it is extremely costly, time consuming and difficult to enforce the new law. Again these additional costs would be passed on to the taxpayers.
   The concept of designating certain breeds as “dangerous dogs” is very troublesome. Purportedly, Labrador, and Golden Retrievers are involved in more biting incidents then what are generally thought of as being the dangerous breeds. Why is this? The answer is that they are the most popular breeds of dogs in this country. Accordingly, any breed with an average weight of over forty pounds has the potential for being designated as a “dangerous dog”.
   All of the kennel and breed clubs in the state are actively working to defeat this proposed legislation. However, the members of these organizations only make up a small percentage of the actual dog owners in New York State. If this bill is going to be defeated it needs the immediate attention of all pet owners in the Empire State.
   What can you do to help defeat this bill? You can get on the American Kennel Club web site at and click on “Legislative Alerts” on the left-hand side of the screen. Then “click” on the article entitled “Urgent for NY Dog Owners." At the bottom of the page is a list of state assemblymen who are on the Agriculture Committee. Their email addresses are shown next to their names. Send these representatives a message informing them of your concerns with this bill. An alternative approach would be to write a letter to: Assemblyman William Magee, Chairman, NYS Assembly Agricultural Committee, LOB 641, Albany, NY 12248.