The Real Deal New York

Presenting a list of beasts banned from NYC apartments

Mountain lions, aardwolfs and other creatures a no-no, city says

July 12, 2013 05:30PM
By Hiten Samtani

Clockwise from top: A jaguarundi, polar bears, a black mamba, an aardwolf, a black widow and a mountain lion

Clockwise from top: A jaguarundi, polar bears, a black mamba, an aardwolf, a black widow and a mountain lion

Oliver Twist’s Mr. Bumble famously proclaimed that “the law is an ass.” But when it comes to New York City apartments, the law is also a panther, a mongoose, an aardwolf and hundreds of other exotic beasts, according to a Department of Health and Mental Hygiene list of forbidden pets reviewed by The Real Deal.

The extensive list – the city defines a wild animal as any “naturally inclined to do harm and capable of inflicting harm upon human beings” – includes creatures from around the world. There’s the zorille, an African relative of the weasel that resembles a skunk, for example, and the jaguarundi, a wildcat native to Latin America.

“People in New York have their ways of getting their hands on these animals,” said Stuart Slotnick, a managing partner at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, when asked why the city would take the pains to make such a detailed accounting. Slotnick first came across the list when a client, whom he declined to provide details about, went toe-to-toe in court with his landlord over one such critter.

Lots of New York landlords have a “no pets” rule, but Slotnick pointed out a clause in the law that residents can use to get around an animal-less existence. If a tenant can prove that Fido is essential to his emotional well-being, then the pooch gets a pass.

“Some residents get medical notes from their doctors prescribing them pets,” Slotnick said.

But any effort to use the loophole for a wild animal would be tranquilized pretty quickly, he added.

“It’s mostly dogs and cats,” Slotnick said. “No one has yet tried to get a cobra declared an emotional support pet.”

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