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Fighting For Our Furry Friends

By Senator Patty Ritchie
Wouldn’t it be nice to have less stress, lower blood pressure, a more positive outlook on life and improved social skills?

For many, these things, along with an overall improved quality of life, can be obtained by owning a pet.

Time and time again, studies have shown that there are a number of proven health benefits for people who own animals.

As a dog owner, I know pets can easily become part of the family.

That’s why I have worked hard to protect “man’s best friend” by advancing legislation to improve veterinary care, strengthening the Pet Store Lemon Law and improving our animal cruelty laws.

This year, the State Legislature approved a bill I cosponsored to allow local governments to crack down on puppy mills.

This legislation will allow municipalities to regulate pet dealers as long as their laws or regulations are not less stringent than state laws.

This important measure will give cities, towns and villages the authority they need to take more steps to protect defenseless animals.

I was also happy to cosponsor the “Pet Store Lemon Law,” a measure that protects those who may bring a new pet home, only to discover that the animal has a serious medical condition.

In the past, when a pet was diagnosed with a congenital deformity, was ill or had a contagious infection or disease, state law only gave owners 14 business days to get reimbursement for veterinary costs.

Under this new measure, consumers will be protected up to six months and can also receive a full refund of the purchase price, or another animal of equal value, at the pet shop where the purchase was made.

This bill was signed into law by the Governor last month.

In addition to these measures, last year, I sponsored legislation that makes it a crime to possess dog fighting equipment, like “breaking sticks,” “cat mills” or other devices used to train fighting dogs or actual dog fighting events.

The measure protects innocent animals from a growing number of animal fight cases, by giving police and prosecutors new tools to stop dog fighters who, because of the underground nature of their crimes, are hard to catch in the act, and are often connected to drug dealing and other dangerous crimes.

Many New Yorkers, myself included, have incredible bonds with their pets.

As your State Senator, I’m pleased support these defenseless animals and am eager to continue to fight for initiatives that help protect our pets.