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Animal Welfare Legislation: New State Laws

In October, 2021, a series of three new bills have been signed into law in New York to protect animals.

The first new law amends New York’s Domestic Relations Law Section 236 to require a court to consider the best interests of a “companion animal” when it awards possession of such an animal during a divorce or separation proceeding. A “companion animal” includes a dog or cat and any other domesticated animal normally maintained in or near the household of the owner – it does not include “farm animals” such as cattle or horses. This new law is already effective.

The second law amends Section 6714 of the New York Education Law to mandate the reporting of suspected animal cruelty by licensed veterinarians. When, in his or her professional judgment, a veterinarian suspects a case of abuse or neglect against an animal he or she will now be required to report it to appropriate authorities. The new law also entitles the reporting veterinarian to be provided with written or electronic documentation of such a report and it permits the veterinarian making the report to remain anonymous, except to the officer or agent taking the complaint. This law takes effect in early 2022.

The third law adds a new Section 3421 to the New York Insurance Law which is intended to prevent an insurance company from discriminating against a homeowner based on the specific breed of dog that he or she owns. The law specifically prohibits insurers from refusing to issue or renew, cancel, or charge or impose an increased premium or rate for such homeowners’ policy or contract based solely upon owning any dog of a specific breed or mixture of breeds. This new law takes effect in early 2022 and applies to all policies issued, renewed, modified, altered, or amended on or after its effective date.

In addition to court protection, another way to ensure animals are protected is to incorporate pets into your estate plan. Here is a link to our previous Legal Briefing on Pet Trusts: Incorporating Pets into your Estate Plan: Common Questions on Pet Trusts (

If you have any questions about any of these new legislative developments or estate planning options for your pets, please contact any attorney of our Firm at 585-730-4773. Please note that any embedded links to other documents may expire in the future.

Animal Welfare Legislation - New State Laws
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This Legal Briefing is intended for general informational and educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice or counsel. The substance of this Legal Briefing is not intended to cover all legal issues or developments regarding the matter. Please consult with an attorney to ascertain how these new developments may relate to you or your business. © 2021 Law Offices of Pullano & Farrow PLLC.


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