Puppy Protection Law Wards Off Constitutional Attack

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By Bernie Pazanowski

A New York City law that requires pet shops to buy their dogs and cats from federally licensed breeders is constitutional, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held March 2 ( N.Y. Pet Welfare Assoc. Inc. v. City of New York , 2d Cir., No. 15-4013-cv, 3/2/17 ).

The law doesn’t discriminate against interstate commerce in violation of the dormant commerce clause, the court said in an opinion by Judge Edward R. Korman, sitting by designation.

The New York Pet Welfare Association Inc. didn’t show that the burdens imposed by the city law fall disproportionately on out-of-state breeders, that the law directly controls commerce occurring wholly outside of New York or that it conflicts with the regulatory scheme in other states, the court said.

The city’s law also isn’t preempted by the federal Animal Welfare Act, the court said. The law doesn’t obstruct the federal government’s licensing scheme, which is designed to help it create a nationwide system of animal welfare inspections, it said.

The city’s spay/neuter law was also upheld against a preemption challenge. Under the law, city pet shops are required to sterilize dogs and cats before selling them but NYPWA didn’t show this requirement conflicts with a New York law that prohibits localities from banning the sale of dogs and cats “raised and maintained in a health and safe manner,” the court said.

Judges Pierre N. Leval and Raymond J. Lohier Jr. joined the opinion.

Fox Rothschild LLP represented the NYPWA. Corporation Counsel represented the city.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bernie Pazanowski in Washington at bpazanowski@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bna.com

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