New York Distinguishes Animals from Other Property in Eviction Cases
By Nicole Pallotta, Academic Outreach Manager
- “Since animals are considered property under the law, there is no distinction between how a couch and an animal is treated. Unlike couches, animals are living sentient beings, and need food, water, air and affection to survive. They cannot be treated like other property. This bill would ensure that the safety and well-being of an animal is not compromised when a tenant is evicted.” – New York Senate Bill S7388B, Sponsor Memo
Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the “No Pet Left Behind” law in August 2018. The new legislation requires officers enacting an eviction warrant to check the premises for companion animals and to coordinate their safe removal.
This law, which is an important acknowledgement that animals’ legal status as property presents a serious impediment to their well-being, will help ensure companion animals in New York are not abandoned in rental properties when their owners are evicted.
Before this law, evicted tenants could not retrieve anything from the property until an inventory was completed and those items were stored, with no distinction between furniture and animals.
This bill was introduced after an evicted couple returned home to find themselves locked out of their residence with their dog inside. According to the sponsor’s memo:
- “The innocent animal was locked inside a small cage in the apartment for two days until the caregiver won a court order to enter the apartment and rescue his dog. The dog, which had been rescued from an abusive home, had no food, only a small water bowl and no place to relieve herself.”
Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal said in a press release, “the law may treat animals like property, but cats are not like couches and dogs are not like dining tables. Animals are sentient beings, members of the family who rely on human care for survival. Plans must be made for their care in the event of an eviction, and this law will ensure that they are.”