in Their Backyard
it comes to making laws, the fun part, it seems, is signing
the legislation. The not-so-fun part—and perhaps the one where
some politicians lose interest—is finding the money and the
mechanism to put the law into practice. With that in mind,
it’s no wonder that Gov. George Pataki is postponing his promise
to put into law a bill that would regulate the pet-dealer
industry in New York state.
The Pet Dealer Consumer Protection and Animal Care Standards
Act was signed by the governor on Aug. 16, 2000. The bill,
which was supposed to take effect this past Monday (April
1), would require that pet dealers and breeders meet minimum
requirements in order to do business in New York. Among other
things, it would require state licensing of pet dealers, dependent
on inspection of the dealers’ facilities; dealers’ compliance
with humane standards of animal care, including feeding, housing
and veterinary care of animals; and routine inspections of
dealing and breeding facilities. The intent of the so-called
“pet dealer” law was to protect puppies and kittens from the
deplorable conditions commonly found in backyard-breeding
and puppy-mill facilities across the state, and to protect
consumers from purchasing diseased pets that were raised in
unhealthy, unsafe environments.
The consumer-protection portion of the law took effect
in February 2001. But the portion of the law that applies
to the thousands of cats and dogs put up for sale in New York
each year has been put on hold for now—and, some fear, indefinitely.
Pataki has requested in his budget proposal that the state
postpone enforcement of the animal-protection part of the
pet-dealer bill. So far, the bill has been delayed until April
30, but according to Stacy Wolf, director of New York State
Government Affairs for the American Society for the Prevention
of Cruelty to Animals, it may very well be delayed by at least
a year. The law is in jeopardy unless funding is included
in this year’s pending budget (which, by today’s count, is
now four days late in passing).
the law for yet another year could well mean it will be postponed
indefinitely,” Wolf said. “Gov. Pataki and the Legislature
should keep the promise they made to New Yorkers 20 months
According to the ASPCA, the funding necessary to put the bill
into effect is “a nominal amount of the state budget.” The
ASPCA predicts that it would take only between $200,000 and
$800,000 to implement the second part of the pet-dealer bill.
looks like Bill McLaughlin will be renovating his building
at 57 Dove St. in Albany after all [Newsfront, Feb. 21]. Last
month, the Albany Zoning Board of Appeals gave McLaughlin
the green light to turn the top three floors of his building,
which currently houses only a Laundromat on the ground floor,
into three apartments. However, the decision does not sit
well with the Center Square Association because it goes against
the neighborhood’s current zoning laws, which call for one-
and two-family row houses.
think it’s wrong,” charged Harold Rubin, chairman of the Center
Square Association’s zoning committee. “We are very concerned
that this will set a bad precedent that any application that
doesn’t fit the criteria for a variance can be approved.”
Part of McLaughlin’s appeal to the board was that the project
was not economically viable unless he could convert the building
into three units. Otherwise, he said, he would keep the building’s
top floors boarded up, as they are now.
But Rubin strongly disagreed. He said that the board did not
check the figures that McLaughlin handed them to see if two
apartments would be too costly to maintain.
an applicant tells them that the sky is falling, then they
would accept that,” said Rubin. “If McLaughlin could have
proved that the only way he could have made a go of it was
with three apartments, then we could accept that. But he didn’t
prove that, and the zoning board did not attempt to verify
the figures he proposed.”
The association is also concerned that three apartments would
add to an already-crowded neighborhood by bringing more renters
to the area rather than new homeowners.
more you turn things into rental units, the less likely you
are to have owner occupants and the less strong the neighborhood,”
For months McLaughlin, who lives on State Street and owns
other rental property on Chestnut Street, had a petition hanging
in the Dove Street Laundromat. The petition asked people to
support his proposal.
people in the neighborhood voted 257 to 30, or so, in favor
of it,” said McLaughlin. “The Center Square Association voted
16-7 against it. The problem is that the people in the association
represent themselves and their own idea of what they want
the neighborhood to be like, without considering what the
McLaughlin said that he is confident that the high-end renovations
he plans for the building will greatly add to the neighborhood.
He has hired a preservation architect to ensure that the building
will meet the state preservation standards.