New York Pet Welfare Association v. New York City, No. 15-4013 (2d Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs filed suit challenging New York City's "Sourcing Law," which requires that pet shops sell only animals acquired from breeders holding a Class A license issued under the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), 7 U.S.C. 2131 et seq. Plaintiffs also challenged the "Spay/Neuter Law," which requires that pet shops sterilize each animal before releasing it to a consumer. The district court dismissed the complaint. The court concluded that the AWA does not preempt the Sourcing Law and rejected plaintiffs' arguments to the contrary as meritless; under the balancing test of Pike v. Bruce Church, Inc., the court concluded that the Sourcing Law does not discriminate against interstate commerce; because the Sourcing Law imposed no incidental burdens on interstate commerce, it cannot impose any that are clearly excessive in relation to its local benefits, and therefore survived scrutiny under the dormant Commerce Clause; and the Spay/Neuter Law was not preempted under New York law governing veterinary medicine, animal cruelty, or business. The court explained that the laws at issue addressed problems of significant importance to the City and its residents; it appeared that the City has enforced them for more than a year, with no apparent ill effects; and the challenged laws were not preempted by either state or federal law, and do not offend the Commerce Clause. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.