New Yorkers hide exotic pets from landlords, boards

From left: Mollie Bean, a jaguar and Aaron Shmulewitz
From left: Mollie Bean, a jaguar and Aaron Shmulewitz

It’s not just dogs and cats anymore. Increasingly, New Yorkers are housing exotic pets — and stepping up efforts to keep these pets secret from their landlords and building boards, Real Estate Weekly reported.

Such unconventional city pets include teacup pigs, wolves and even a kangaroo. Mollie Bean, a broker at City Connections, told REW that she once went to view a live/work space and saw a jaguar inside. “The owners told me, ‘Don’t worry, he doesn’t bite.’ Yeah, right. I wouldn’t go in until he was out on the deck,” she said. 

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Aaron Shmulewitz, a lawyer at Belkin Burden Wenigs & Goldman, said that a section of New York City’s health code bans the housing of a wild animal in residential buildings, but people find a way around it. For example, residents who live in a building that does not have a doorman or regular visits from inspectors, a superintendent or the building owner have a relatively easy time. Shmulewitz also pegs the rise in exotic-animal ownership to changing city demographics: owners and renters can now afford the cost of wild animal maintenance.

While some city developments are rolling out the red carpet for more conventional pets — Related created Dog City at MiMA and Rose Associates was behind a dog concierge program at 20 of its properties — other buildings have been less than friendly to man’s best friend. Gateway Plaza in Battery Park City, for one, tried to enact a ban on certain dog breeds, but then reneged on it. [REW] — Zachary Kussin