New law bans canine discrimination

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By Charlene Marchand
For Capital Region Independent Media

Chappie is a 4-year-old black and white domestic shorthaired cat, pictured with CGHS/SPCA Adoption Counselor Laura
Isbell. He’s a very sweet boy who loves snuggles and pats. He seems to get along well with the other cats at the shelter, but it is unknown if he’s good with dogs. He will greet you at the door and climb right up on the couch with you! Chappie is the perfect lap cat!

For well over a decade, the American Kennel Club (AKC) advocated for legislation that would protect dog owners from being subject to homeowners’ insurance policy discrimination based solely on the breed of dog that was owned.

“The amount of money paid by homeowners’ insurance claimants suing for dog bites went from $324.4 million in 2003 to $853.7 million in 2020,” according to an editorial in Dog News.

As a result, companies began to refuse to write policies – some homeowners even facing cancellation when a “certain” breed was purchased or adopted from a shelter or private rescue group.

As many of us can attest, breeds such as German shepherd dogs, Doberman pinschers, American Staffordshire terriers (“pitbulls”), huskies, boxers, cane corsos, akitas, mastiffs, Rottweilers, Belgian Malinois, giant Schnauzers – the list
goes on – are targets of breed discrimination and restrictions.

Many of our canine family members are combinations of multiple breeds, i.e. mixed breeds. The increasing list of “crossbreds,” e.g. Golden and Labrador retriever mixes, Poodle mixes, Bernese mountain dog mixes, Old English sheep-
dog mixes, husky mixes – this list is becoming endless – were previously not included in these “bans.” The purebred dog population “took the hit,” so to speak, as the ability to research and prove background and DNA would become a Herculean task, if not impossible.

We have reason to celebrate! On Oct. 30, 2021, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed Senate Bill 4254 (now Chapter 545), which states, “No insurer shall refuse to issue or renew, cancel, or charge or impose an increased premium or rate for such policy or contract based solely upon harboring or owning any dog of a specific breed or mixture of breeds.”

This law will be in effect as of January 2022. What an excellent, knowledgeable, pragmatic and effective move our new governor has taken. Let each canine be judged as an individual if it is declared dangerous as defined in New York state law.

Feel free to call us with any questions at 518-828-6044 or visit our website at www.cghs.org. Our Food Bank is open to
any from the public in need of pet food or for those wishing to donate food from 11:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily. Spay/neuter
clinics for cats are $86.00 male or female, including a rabies vaccination and a 5-in-1 feline distemper combination vac-
cination. Nail clipping services are available every Saturday from 10 to 11 a.m. at the shelter for a donation of $10 for cats
and $15 for dogs (currently prepaid only). Charlene Marchand is the chairperson of the Columbia-Greene Humane Society/
SPCA Board of Directors. She may be contacted at cghsaaron@gmail.com.

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