New York bans pet tattooing and piercing

Crime, Politics, Rights

A bill outlawing pet tattooing is waiting to be signed into law by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Pet owners will still be able to pierce or tattoo their animals for medical reasons, but other unnecessary modifications will be considered illegal if the bill becomes law.

Sale of ‘gothic kittens’ inspired the pet tattoo bill

The pet tattoo bill was sponsored by Democratic Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal and gained support from both Republicans and Democrats, passing the state Assembly on June 18 with 130 votes in favor and none in opposition. Rosenthal heard about gothic kittens for sale and was moved to draw up the bill.

In 2011, a Pennsylvania woman was convicted of animal cruelty and given six months of home detention for making alterations to kittens to make them look more gothic. She pierced their ears and necks and removed their tails, and then tried to sell them on eBay for $100.

More recently, a New York City tattoo artist received backlash after publishing an Instagram photo that showed he had tattooed his dog, who was unconscious following an operation at the time. The tattoo artist did not see any reason for controversy and again posted on his Instagram account, saying, “Some people just don’t appreciate anything! It’s an ANIMAL with a tattoo.”

Placing small tattoos on animals that have been spayed or neutered to prevent unnecessary future surgeries is common practice approved by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. They argue that it is not the same thing as modifying an animal for the sake of appearances only, as the mark has a clear purpose related to the animal’s own welfare.

Felony prosecution of animal abuse now in all 50 states

Currently no other states have banned pet tattooing and piercing, most likely because the occurrence is still rare. Nonetheless, companion animals are subject to protection under laws outlawing cruelty to animals.

Laws vary by state – in certain parts of California it is illegal to declaw cats, for example – but in general, every state has laws against torturing, beating, abandoning and neglecting animals. It is also illegal to hoard animals.

Most forms of animal abuse are considered misdemeanors but severe cases can be prosecuted as felonies. In March, an animal welfare Senate bill was signed into law in South Dakota, making it the 50th and final state to endorse laws for felony prosecution for certain kinds of animal abuse.

Earlier this year, France passed a bill giving pets higher status by reclassifying them from “moveable goods” to “living beings capable of feelings.”