The New York Daily News recently reported that New York City Health Department rules ban anybody from accepting payment in exchange for caring for an animal outside of a licensed kennel or boarding facility – and homes can’t become licensed to board pets. This means that any pet sitters, but especially users of popular pet-sitting apps such as Rover, are breaking the law. At least two apartment residents have already been hit with violations for caring for pets without a permit. Fines start at $1000.
According to Health Department spokesman Julien Martinez, the ban is justified by public health concerns:
“To ensure the health and safety of pets and reduce risks to public health, the NYC Health Code requires certain businesses to obtain a Health Department permit and comply with necessary regulations – this includes animal boarding facilities and kennels. We also conduct inspections of these facilities to make sure animals would be secure and safe.”
Last October, Health Department general counsel Thomas Merrill sent a letter to DogVacay.com, now owned by Rover, warning that its users were breaking the law. It also asked the company to require sitters to confirm they have a license before joining. Since homes can’t be licensed to care for pets, the company has refused to comply with the request.
City Council health committee chair Corey Johnson, shocked to discover that pet sitting is illegal in the city, said he plans to draft legislation to allow it. According to Johnson (D-Manhattan):
“It’s so crazy. There are millions of cats and dogs in New York City, and people I think believe they can pet sit or have someone pet sit for them. To have a law on the books that says that’s illegal is antiquated and not practical.”
Even if pet sitting is legal in your area, you should always do your homework before picking a pet sitter. For now, New Yorkers are caught between a rock and a hard place.
(H/T: New York Daily News)