New York state bans pet tattooing, piercing

Mon Dec 15, 2014 3:40pm EST
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York is banning pet tattoos and piercing under a state law aimed at curbing the trendy practice of inking or even maiming animals to make fashion statements.

The legislation, which Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law on Monday and that takes effect in 120 days, comes in the wake of controversies over pet owners tattooing or piercing animals and circulating those images on the Internet.

"This is animal abuse, pure and simple," Cuomo said. "I'm proud to sign this common-sense legislation and end these cruel and unacceptable practices in New York once and for all."

Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, a Democrat from Manhattan, introduced the bill in 2011 after hearing about a Pennsylvania woman who attempted to sell on the Internet "gothic kittens," with piercings down their necks and spines, she said.

The bill gained steam earlier this year, when a Brooklyn resident tattooed his pit bull while the dog was unconscious during spleen surgery and posted a photo of the ink work on social media, she added.

“Though it may seem inconceivable that anyone would tattoo or pierce their dog or cat, a quick Internet search reveals that it is a growing trend among some misguided individuals,” Rosenthal said.

Violators of the law, which applies to dogs, cats and all other pets, face up to $250 in fines and up to 15 days imprisonment.

Ear tags on rabbits or tattoos for identification purposes will be excluded from the law. Cases where piercing provides a medical benefit to the animal, and is performed under the supervision of a veterinarian, will also be allowed.

(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Peter Cooney)