NYC law bans pet sitting without license


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You get the government you deserve: The New York City health department has been fining pet sitters and trying to block online services that link pets to sitters because the city law bans pet sitting without a kennel license as well as bans issuing that license to private homes.

Health Department rules ban anyone from taking money to care for an animal outside a licensed kennel — and the department has warned a popular pet-sitting app that its users are breaking the law.

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

I must admit that I have very little sympathy for these pet sitters. New Yorkers have been voting for a big intrusive city government for more than a century. This is what they wished for. This is what they get. Nonetheless, while it might make sense for the local government to place limits on the number of pets allowed in a private home in a crowded place like New York, for it to ban anyone from earning any money for taking care of someone else’s pets is a clear abuse of power.

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16 comments

  • Dick Eagleson

    Occupational licensure is one of the ways the Democrats keep the poor from rising, economically. It’s also the most common form of crony capitalism – incumbent businesses seek to impose licensure to limit, or even end, market entry by newcomers.

    That’s what NYC’s medallion system for taxis did for decades before Uber upset the apple cart. The cab companies have been successful in certain places in restoring their oligopoly privileges. I’m not sure if NYC is among those places, but I wouldn’t be surprised. All such places are deep Blue cities.

    Rover seems to be the Uber of petsitting. Like Uber, it is probably going to face considerable pushback from incumbent business owners who’ve availed themselves of politically-based protection from competition.

    There have been a lot of ideologically- and pro bono legal-based efforts to end occupational licensure over the years, but these have made very little headway. It seems the real solution is turning out to be the rise of these so-called “sharing economy” firms like Uber and Lyft that can generate big revenues in relatively non-statist places to fund the legal challenges needed to break these antiquated and anti-competitive licensure requirements in benighted Blue places.

    The future is looking brighter. But securing the end of unjustifiable occupational licensure is going to be a process, not an event.

  • pzatchok

    Your right.

    If I was a NY City resident I would just love having my apartment neighbor housing a dozen or more dogs in his one bedroom apartment just for a few extra bucks.

    This has nothing to do with housing laws, business laws, or even health codes but everything to do with that huge kennel monopoly.

    Unlike the cab industry in NY there are no limits on the number of kennels in NY.

    All of these ‘uber’ type apps will come to a screaming halt when the Feds order them to send every local city, county and state their service providers records for tax purposes.

  • Commodude

    If a building wants to limit the number of pets allowed they can do so via the lease agreement. There is absolutely no need for the nanny state to get involved with this.

    As to records required for taxation? We have a Federalist system in the US, the Federal Government would be far out of bounds to order a business to do what you’re stating. If the states and municipalities want to tax the revenue, then they can go after the records, likely as a class action through the courts.

  • pzatchok

    Who upholds the lease agreement?
    The government enforces it. Just like trying to evict someone. But it will take anywhere from a month to a year to get them out.

    If the health department gets involved it could close them down and evict them in less than a day.

    Do you really think any of those pet sitters actually own their own home?
    Heck no. If they did they would just apply for a small kennel permit and be done with it.

  • Commodude

    Terminating a lease for cause is a relatively rapid process, it can be accomplished in a month give or take. Let the market decide the issue, not the nanny state.

    Governmental regulation should be limited to legitimate threats to the general welfare of the populace, criminal control, etc, not annoyances which can be dealt with in the market.

    Why so many feel the desperate desire to enslave themselves to the government will forever be a curiosity to me. There is a somewhat more succinct expression of this question by Mr. Heinlein, but I’ll avoid using it to retain the polite discourse on the site.

  • wayne

    Dick-
    Good stuff.

    Highly recommend this to start:
    “Occupational Licensing and Inequality”
    https://www.libertarianism.org/columns/occupational-licensing-inequality

    followed by this highly informative lecture
    Timothy Sandefur discussing occupational licensing, in depth.
    James Madison Institute 2011
    “The Right To Earn a Living”
    https://youtu.be/qwTeR4jM9GU
    (54:00)

    “Sandefur discusses the “four big Progressive ideas” that came about during the New Deal-era Supreme Court in the 1930’s.
    They include: 1) Rather than being inherent, rights are permissions given to individuals by the state; 2) Government exists to “improve” society, not to protect individual rights; 3) A reading of judicial restraint that means when government violates your rights, the courts should do nothing about it; and 4) Belief in a “living Constitution,” that will be radically reinterpreted in various contexts.”

  • wayne

    This is sorta humorous, if it wasn’t so incredibly tragic, and/but– these people should not be surprised. They do elect self avowed communist’s & Statist’s of all stripes on a regular basis.
    (“I’m shocked, shocked to discover… restraint of trade has been going on in NYC, for 100+ years.”)

    -this never gets old-
    Casablanca…
    https://youtu.be/nM_A4Skusro
    (0:48)

    (pivoting tangentially–Big fan of Mike Rowe from “Dirty jobs,” and especially his work with vocational education.)

    I don’t know what the economics of pet-sitting work out to be in NYC, but one thing these type of internet based services do very well–disperse information instantly; you give somebody a crummy Uber ride, a dirty B&B house rental, or put 50 dogs in your rent-controlled apartment, and everyone will know about it. And, they tend to drive down the cost of the good/service in question, to its marginal cost, whereas the current players extract above average revenue courtesy of their partners in crime, the local controlling government body.

  • Commodude

    This, in a nutshell, is why upstate NY wants to create two separate polities from the state. East of the Hudson can go their own way, and those of us West of the Hudson will do the same.

    NYC and Albany love regulations. Outside of the urban hub of Syracuse, most of the rest of the state feels quite differently. When the SAFE act passed (rapidly, with no review, and no notice) the Upstate Sheriff’s Association essentially told Albany to go pound sand.

    Want to start a kennel? Abide with any local zoning and health regs and have fun.

  • wayne

    “Harry Tuttle, Heating Engineer”
    Brazil (1985)
    https://youtu.be/dht_3NziwSw

  • Edward

    Commodude wrote: “Governmental regulation should be limited to legitimate threats to the general welfare of the populace, criminal control, etc, not annoyances which can be dealt with in the market.

    This is a restatement of the problem of people shouting, “there aught to be a law!”

    Every time a law is passed, the rights and freedoms of the citizens is reduced and the power and authority of the increasingly authoritarian government increases.

    wayne,
    The 1930s was the era of the Raw Deal. Policies created in the 1930s are now biting us in our butts. These include financial costs (e.g. the cost of Social (In)Security), social costs (the insistence upon having a “safety net” even though it has turned into a hammock for the lazy), and cultural costs (e.g. the reduced work ethic).

  • wayne

    Edward–
    I hear ‘ya. I’m a big FDR raw-deal hater, from way back!

  • pzatchok

    Commodude

    “Terminating a lease for cause is a relatively rapid process, it can be accomplished in a month give or take. Let the market decide the issue, not the nanny state.”

    Have you ever tried to evict a reluctant tenant? Let alone one who would rather spend their rent cash on a lawyer just to spite you?

    See your lease might have said one dog but since the tenants are not running a business and just watching a dog for a friend for a very short period of time it should be treated just like having a human guest for a week or so.
    Are they also running one of those app airbeds and renting out the pull out couch and second bedroom?

    Well its not officially a business and shouldn’t be your problem as the landlord right?

    How long would it take you to prove they are running a business inside that apartment? A year or more?

    As a businessman I just don’t think untaxed competition is fare. Do you?

  • Commodude

    I work with a couple of people who are landlords. They have had, on occasion, the need to evict for breach of lease. They haven’t had any issues, the court process was relatively rapid, and the eviction was as well. There are outliers to everything, and the media makes hay with exceptions, not the norm. A breach of contract is just that, a breach, and the courts see it as such.

    As to the fairness of untaxed competition, how deep do you want to go with that? Are you going to start tax actions for every sale on craigslist?

    Tax the infamous lemonade stand? Require vendor permits for kids on a street corner? Be careful what you wish for, you might get it. We’ve had more than one tete-a-tete in this country over taxation….

  • Edward

    Commodude wrote: “I work with a couple of people who are landlords. They have had, on occasion, the need to evict for breach of lease. They haven’t had any issues, the court process was relatively rapid, and the eviction was as well.

    It may depend upon the municipality. Some places have very strict rent control laws that favor the tenants over the owners. Many years ago, there was an old lady in Berkeley (heavy rent control) who needed hospitalization for a couple of months. Her daughter thought that the empty house could generate a few dollars to help make up for the cost of the hospital, so she rented out the house to a couple of girls who had said they only wanted to live there for two months. Unfortunately, the girls had lied and it took a year for the eviction. Meanwhile, the rightful owner could not live in her own home for that year.

    How fair is that?

    Berkeley has not corrected its laws to cover such an innocent problem. No wonder rental housing is so hard to find in Berkeley.

  • Dick Eagleson

    The country needs more micro-businesses. The problem with places like NYC is their municipal tax regulations are designed for things as they were a century or more ago. Many times, in many places – and NYC is probably one of them – the fee for a business license is independent of the yearly revenue of the business. Some cities and states impose uniform so-called “franchise fees” on any corporation – oreven any unincorporated business – of any size. So the Great United S–tworks, Inc. pays the same franchise fee as some little grey-haired granny who has a side business crocheting tea cozies.

    And it’s hardly as if the Uber drivers and Rover pet-sitters aren’t paying taxes. These “sharing economy” outfits usually employ their workers as independent contractors. The IRS requires a 1099 be filed for each at year’s end so Uncle Sugar, at least, knows who has made how much. States and cities with income taxes – and both New York state and NYC are such jurisdictions – also require 1099-equivalent forms to be filed for any money paid to any person whose residence of record is within their boundaries. And the companies themselves – Uber, Rover, etc. – certainly pay federal corporate taxes.

    Given that NYC is one of those benighted places that actually has a city income tax, it would seem there is a ready-made way for the city to find out who is “running a business” within city limits. So I really don’t see how even these “sharing economy” people are really able to duck any of NYC’s numerous exactions.

    But, then, I don’t live in NYC. If I did, perhaps I’d be more acquainted with all the ways the natives have invented to stay below the radar and off the various assessor’s rolls.

  • Edward

    Dick Eagleson wrote: “The country needs more micro-businesses.

    The cottage industry concept is not new. The nursery rhyme, “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” references the cottage industry: “one [bag of wool] for the little girl who lives down the lane.”

    The Small Business Administration provides “micro loans” for small startups, and was developed after similar programs were a great success in other countries, especially bringing improved economies to third world countries.
    https://www.sba.gov/loans-grants/see-what-sba-offers/sba-loan-programs/microloan-program

    I agree with Dick Eagleson. We need more micro businesses so that some can grow into tomorrow’s Microsofts, Apples, and Hewlett Packards, to name three that started in garages or a car.

    Or at least to keep the little girl who lives down the lane off of various welfare programs.

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