New York City

Taking Care of a Friend's Dog For The Weekend? Better Have a License, NYC Says

Why does New York City hate puppies?

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Harry Lynch/MCT/Newscom

Even something as simple as having a friend watch your dog for the weekend isn't immune from the scourge of government permission slips in New York City, it seems. The city's Health Department is threatening users of a popular pet-sitting app with fines of $1,000 for taking care of animals without a license.

Thousands of users of Rover, a mobile app that connects pet-owners with individuals willing to feed, walk, and otherwise take care of their animals across New York City are potentially violating a little-known Health Department rule, the New York Daily News reported Thursday.

Though no one has been fined so far, two residents have been hit with violations in November and December for caring for pets without a permit, the paper reports.

The Health Department has also sent a letter to Rover warning about the legal violations. A department spokesman says the permits are needed to protect "public health," according to the Daily News.

"The laws are antiquated," Chad Bacon, who uses Rover to make extra cash by dog-sitting, told the paper. "If you're qualified and able to provide a service, I don't think you should be penalized."

That's a sentiment that could be applied to pretty much any profession where licenses are required, but it's particularly true here.

In-home pet-care is without a doubt the most humane, cost-effective, healthiest option for many pet dogs and cats, Michael Moyer, a Pennsylvania-based veterinarian, tells Reason via email.

"Whether it is the pet's own home or pet sitter's home, there are fewer opportunities for problems than a typical commercial boarding kennel," wrote Moyer. "Any reasonable pet owner could likely judge the appropriateness/safety of the pet-sitter's accommodations with a visual assessment at the time of the pet drop off."

UPDATE: The New York City Health Department, in a statement provided to Reason, says it does not intend to enforce these regulations against individual families, but does require permits for commerical boarding operations: "In order to protect animals from neglect, the Health Department requires animal boarding and kennel facilities to obtain permits and comply with regulations. Commercial boarding of animals in homes is illegal. These regulations do not apply to the average New Yorker who may pet sit for friends, family, and neighbors."

Like other battles between politically connected industries and the sharing economy, upstarts that seek to disrupt them—think hotels versus Airbnb, or taxis versus Uber—the ban on dog-sitting without a license seems to be driven by kennels who don't want competition from apps like Rover.

Kennels have enjoyed a long near-monopoly in the pet care market. Until apps like Rover, you didn't have much of a choice except to pay whatever the nearest kennel charged. In New York, especially, they aren't cheap or convienent—as the New York Daily News points out. Many New Yorkers have to drive their dogs to Connecticut to find a kennel.

Rover has completely changed the landscape. The app has 9,000 sitters in New York City alone and reports having 95,000 pet owners in the city registered to use the service.

Thankfully, City Councilman Corey Johnson tells the Daily News that he plans to introduce legislation legalizing pet-sitting. The Health Department's police, he says, are "crazy," "antiquated," and "not practical."

It's a shame the city government hasn't taken that same approach to roomsharing—using Airbnb is technically illegal in New York, even though many people have ignored the ban—but at least Johnson is nudging the city in the direction of more freedom.

The sharing economy is here to stay, regardless of what rules and regulations special interests fearful of new competition press local governments to impose. Policymakers should use a light touch in regulating mutually-beneficial agreements that let people crash on a couch, hop a ride, or leave their pooch in someone else's care.

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41 responses to “Taking Care of a Friend's Dog For The Weekend? Better Have a License, NYC Says

  1. Why does New York City hate puppies?

    Because they piss and shit on the floor and go around licking everyone. Just like Crusty.

    1. Yeah but it’s cute when Crusty does it

      1. Only if you have antibiotics on hand.

  2. Thankfully, City Councilman Corey Johnson tells the Daily News that he plans to introduce legislation legalizing pet-sitting.

    Anyone holding his breath on this?

  3. City Councilman Corey Johnson tells the Daily News that he plans to introduce legislation legalizing pet-sitting. The Health Department’s police, he says, are “crazy,” “antiquated,” and “not practical.”

    Apparently the kennel association’s lobbyist hasn’t provided the councilman any incentive to fully understand the situation. Before the dogs get their greenies, the councilmen get their green.

  4. /facepalm

  5. What kind of nonsense is Reason spewing here? Regulations are meant to protect us, not benefit narrow interests like those kennels. Someone might mistreat those dogs so the government must protect us and make us spend more money to keep our animals alive. Regulations keep us from making bad decisions on our own or being subject to some greedy capitalist’s whims

    Take a look at Net Neutrality and who supports it. You see companies like Netflix…wait wait

    Take a look at people fighting Uber. Yellow Cab companies…ok let’s try another one

    Airbnb…huh I guess these councilmen have a lot of friends in the hotel industry

    The drug war! Wait, what are these alcohol and tobacco companies doing funding the Partnership for a Drug Free America?

  6. Why? Because the democrat progressive socialist communist knows what’s best for you.

  7. The headline says…”Taking care of a friends dog this weekend….ect”?

    Using an app to find someone to watch your dog for money isn’t asking a “friend”, anymore than using Uber or Airbnd is asking a “friend”….

    That is the trouble with the “so-called” sharing economy….it leaves an electronic trail…(by the way, I have nothing against the sharing economy).

    1. Says a friendless hunchback.

      1. Hey….I’m very popular among the other hunchbacks….So FU.

    2. True, they are not the same, but that electronic trail also enhances safety (bad reviews, etc.).

  8. This isn’t an “antiquated” law. It was asinine from the moment it was enacted.

  9. I feel like this is a plot to give the police more reason to shoot dogs.

    1. Or, now follow me here, a plot to give dogs more reason to shoot cops!

      1. Now you’re talking! Trigger happy pups! Mailmen should probably watch out too.

        1. Man, the newest remake of Straw Dogs is going in a weird direction.

  10. ‘ “The laws are antiquated,” Chad Bacon, who uses Rover to make extra cash by dog-sitting, told the paper. “If you’re qualified and able to provide a service, I don’t think you should be penalized.” ‘

    Idiot just made the State’s case by throwing the word “qualified” in there. While ‘qualified’ and ‘certified’ don’t mean the same thing, they are close enough for our rulers.

  11. “And don’t even get us started about *baby*sitters!”

  12. New York should pass a law requiring ALL dog-owners to have ALL their dogs surgically de-barked. This is a real thing–an operation which disables the dog’s voice-box.

    Noise pollution = pollution = aggressive violence, violates the NAP.

    1. Until the voiceless pit bull attacks them. On a rickety stairwell.

    2. How about a law to require all Toads to be de-fingered? This is a real thing– an operation which disables the Toad’s fingers.

      Stupid comments = headaches = aggressive violence, violates the NAP.

  13. Remember when liberals were about freedom and sticking it to The Man? Now they are The Man.

    1. No, they were always jackboot thugs. The only issue they had is they weren’t in power.

      1. Yes…The Left and The Right do have one thing in common….they both want to tell how to live.

        1. oops….they both want to tell “us” how to live…..(oh boy….just got up:)

  14. Watching baby humans is okay. I think.

  15. I am old enough to remember when friends were people you had met in person, had many face to face discussions with, and already knew if they were a good choice to care for a pet. Not a total stranger made up of electrons until the moment you show up at a place you have never been to “asses the situation at drop off”.

    So the story is actually about yet another attempt to control those rebels who think they are allowed to start an independent business in New York without paying the proper tribute to the democrats.

    The law is still nonsense, but should be headlined for what it is, not masked in yet another clickbait headline. Unless of course Reason is here to generate advertising revenue.

    1. Although your overall assessment of the story is correct, it looks to me as if you were sitting a pet for an actual friend or neighbor without the benefit of an app or other third party you would still be in violation. I guess using the app just makes it easier for the goons to catch you.

      1. NYC has all sorts of regulations that are impossible to enforce. For example, my first apartment building was shocked when I told them I’d moved out without clearing it with them first. Somehow, they thought I needed to get their permission first to pick up a phone and arrange for someone to move my property elsewhere. I proved that there’s no physical restraint keeping me from doing so.

        This dog law will be as good as nonexistent for people asking a friend to watch their dog. Who would know, and who would know the law even exists if they do know someone’s watching the dog? As Longtobefree correctly notes, it’s targeting the business.

  16. What in the world are these people doing owning pets for which they are unable to provide complete care? Irresponsible jerks, we should fine them just for that.

    1. PETA activists will catch on to the opportunity here soon enough without any hints.

  17. Why pets are always faithful.This is an important question for those who care for pets. Anyway thanks for this fabulous articles.

  18. Where’s the alt-text? How about “But I liked my sitter from Rover!”

    1. “When I get out of the pen I’m gonna kill you motherf*cker.”

  19. UPDATE: The New York City Health Department, in a statement provided to Reason, says it does not intend to enforce these regulations against individual families, but does require permits for commerical boarding operations: “In order to protect animals from neglect, the Health Department requires animal boarding and kennel facilities to obtain permits and comply with regulations. Commercial boarding of animals in homes is illegal. These regulations do not apply to the average New Yorker who may pet sit for friends, family, and neighbors.”

  20. This is just another example of how our elected politicians have no regard for the public. This is all about money. You have to pay the city to get a license and who knows what you need to slide the local pol to make sure your application doesn’t “get lost”.

  21. ************Income Information***************]
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    1. Let me guess, the job is as a poofreader.
      Proofraider.
      Proofreader.

  22. ************Income Information***************]
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    I get paid ?82 every hour from online joobs. I never thought I’d be able to do it but my friend AB is earning ?9k monthly by doing this job and she showed me how. Try it out on following website..

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  23. 9,000 pet sitters and 95,000 pet owners? There’s some money here. Not only are the kennels protecting their turf, the city wants their tribute. Just business as usual.

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