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Unlicensed Pet Sitters: The Latest Victim of New York’s Regulatory State

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mises.org / August 12, 2017

The New York City Health Department wants to ensure that pet sitters are licensed, and has warned a popular internet-based pet sitter service that its users are in violation of the law.

Following outrage, the Health Department clarified and somewhat softened the regulations, stating that “individual families” would not be targeted, but that commercial pet sitters in private homes would be.

It’s worth discussing how a regulation like this will apparently be enforced, as it explains a lot about how state agencies think about us.

First off, we get the usual justification from the Health Department about why these rules are necessary to protect us:

Health Department spokesman Julien Martinez said the ban is justified by public health concerns.

“To ensure the health and safety of pets and reduce risks to public health, the NYC Health Code requires certain businesses to obtain a Health Department permit and comply with necessary regulations — this includes animal boarding facilities and kennels,” he said. “We also conduct inspections of these facilities to make sure animals would be secure and safe.”

Note the keywords, “health” and “safety” at the beginning, as well as “public health” — who can be against “health,” “safety,” and “public health”?

One rare article that tried to defend the regulation is very enlightening. We learn that, for some reason, the Health Department will not issue the licenses to private homes that house or board pets. But, not to worry, hiring someone to come to your home to care for your pet, or perform walking services, remains legal. And, if someone simply watches your pets while you are gone, and no money changes hands, that’s acceptable (according to the city), too.

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