Nov. 1, 2021 By Christian Murray
People who own pit bulls, Rottweilers and other dogs deemed aggressive have often struggled to buy homeowners’ insurance or have faced higher premiums.
That is about to change. A bill, sponsored by State Sen. Mike Gianaris, was signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul last week, which bans insurance companies from denying coverage—or hiking insurance premiums—based on the breed of dog owned by the policyholder.
Gianaris, who represents western Queens, says that many insurance companies have failed to provide homeowners’ insurance to people who keep certain types of dogs—or raise their premiums— based on the claim that some breeds are dangerous and bite.
The lawmaker said that there is no statistical connection between dog breeds and bite incidents, citing a white paper that states that dogs such as Great Danes are no more dangerous than corgis and chihuahuas.
He says that higher premiums add to the cost of home ownership, often forcing canine lovers to forgo owning or keeping such dogs.
“People should never be forced to choose between an affordable place to live and the pets who are members of their families,” Gianaris said.
Hochul also signed another pet-friendly bill last week that had been sponsored by Gianaris. The legislation mandates veterinarians to report suspected cases of animal abuse.
“Violence against animals is often predictive of violence against people, particularly domestic violence,” said Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal, the assembly sponsor of the vet reporting legislation who represents the Upper West Side of Manhattan. “It is vital that we do everything we can to root out both.”
Gianaris said that the new laws aim to ensure that animals are treated with dignity.
“Our four-legged friends are valued companions who are parts of our families and deserve to be respected,” Gianaris said. “We have more work to do but these are important steps forward in the cause of animal rights.”
Gianaris’ legislation to stop retail pet stores from selling dogs and cats, however, has yet to become law. His bill passed the senate in May but was not put up for a full vote in the Assembly this legislative year.
The bill was first introduced in 2018. It passed the senate for the first time in 2020 and passed again in 2021. It has failed to get passage in the Assembly.