Issues

Pet Lovers Decry NYC Law That Prohibits Dog Sitting Without Kennel License

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A little-known law in New York City that requires people who dog sit to have a kennel license is enraging pet lovers.

The rule was put in place by the city's Health Department and makes it illegal to take money to care for an animal without a license, the New York Daily News reported Thursday. The health code prohibits boarding, feeding, and grooming animals for a fee without an appropriate license

The pet sitting app Rover was warned by the Health Department that its users could be in violation of the law. Kennel licenses are not issued for private homes.

Rover wants the rule to be overturned, potential setting up another dispute between a tech company and New York City. Uber and Airbnb have recently clashed with the city over restricting their operations.

"If you've got a 14-year-old getting paid to feed your cats, that's against the law right now," Rover's general counsel, John Lapham, told the Daily News. "Most places right now continue to make it easier to watch children than animals, and that doesn't make any sense."

Fines start at $1,000 for violating the law. At least two violations in November and December were prosecuted.

"The laws are antiquated," said Chad Bacon, 29, a dog sitter with the app Rover. "If you're qualified and able to provide a service, I don't think you should be penalized."

The City Council Health Committee's chair, Corey Johnson, is not a fan of the measure and plans to introduce legislation to repeal it and allow dog sitting.

"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," Johnson said. "To have a law on the books that says that's illegal is antiquated and not practical."