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.”