The Good Fight: New York Takes Steps to Squash Breed-Specific Legislation
Under the new animal-welfare laws, insurers will no longer be able to discriminate against pet parents of certain dog breeds.
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Breed-specific legislation has long been used to discriminate against various dogs, specifically Pit Bull types. Often excused as a means of curbing dog fighting and animal violence, regulations at both the state and federal level have made it difficult for many animals to find and maintain healthy homes, by way of rental bans and heavy insurance restrictions. However, after decades of misunderstanding and mistreatment, societal understanding is slowly beginning to shift.
This is highlighted by a recent development out of New York, in which Governor Kathy Hochul signed a legislative package hoping to improve animal welfare and reverse much of the misguided structure previously in place. The new laws will prohibit insurers from refusing to issue, renew, cancel, or charge policies based solely on dog breeds, as well as refuting popular premium increases for certain policies. This will ultimately help prevent insurance companies from discriminating against homeowners based on the breed of the dog that they own.
“Dogs of all breeds deserve loving homes and no one should have to fear losing their insurance coverage based on the dog they own.”
— Governor Hochul
“To own a pet is a blessing and we owe it to the animals of New York to keep them safe and healthy,” said Governor Hochul. “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.”
Additionally, the legislation will require and help assist veterinarians to report suspected animal cruelty. It will mandate such action while protecting the identity of veterinarians. The hope is by protecting the confidentiality of reporters, vets will feel more comfortable and compelled to flag incidents or suspected abuse. “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 Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal. “Putting a halt to animal cruelty at the first sign will help protect both pets and people from future harm.”
While it is only a single state step towards progress, the victory is being celebrated and will, hopefully, inspire similar action across the country. “New York is blazing a trail to a safer and kinder society with these new laws,” said Animal Farm Foundation executive director Stacey Coleman. “Both make it possible for NY pets to remain safely with their families while still protecting the welfare of the pets, the safety of our communities, and the insurance companies’ right to refuse coverage to problematic dog owners. Everyone wins.”
Sean Zucker is a writer whose work has been featured in Points In Case, The Daily Drunk, Posty, and WellWell. He has an adopted Pit Bull named Banshee whose work has been featured on the kitchen floor and whose behavioral issues rival his own.