Two bills meant to bolster animal welfare in New York were signed into law this weekend by Gov. Kathy Hochul, with provisions that bar insurance companies from discriminating against dog breeds and another mandating veterinarians report suspected animal cruelty.
"To own a pet is a blessing and we owe it to the animals of New York to keep them safe and healthy," Hochul said. "Dogs of all breeds deserve loving homes and no one should have to fear losing their insurance coverage based on the dog they own. In the same vein, veterinarians who see signs of abuse in their patients should be safeguarded so they can report said abuse to the proper authorities. I am proud to sign these bills into law to ensure the wellbeing of pets across the state."
The new law will prevent insurance companies from canceling, refusing to issue or renew or charge higher premiums for home insurance based on an owner's breed of dog.
Supporters of the legislation argue that allowing insurance companies to dictate restrictions on breeds can create a "de facto dog ban" for families in any home mortgage, and note there is no statistical correlation between dog breeds and bite incidents.
“These new laws ensure our animals are treated with the dignity they deserve. Our four-legged friends are valued companions who are parts of our families and deserve to be respected,” said Sen. Mike Gianaris, who sponsored the bill in the state Senate. “We have more work to do but these are important steps forward in the cause of animal rights.”
The other bill, requiring veterinarians to report suspected animal cruelty or abuse, also includes a shield provision meant to protect the identity of veterinarians who come forward and allows them to receive a copy of any report that is generated by an investigation.
“Violence against animals is often predictive of violence against people, particularly domestic violence, and it is vital that we do everything we can to root out both," said Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, who sponsored the reporting bill. "Veterinarians have been on the front lines in identifying animal abuse, and with this new law, they will finally have the tools they need to stop abuse."