Landlord Tenant Disputes

Pet Custody Disputes

Dangerous Dog Proceedings

Pet Trusts

Veterinary Malpractice

Dog Grooming Accidents

Pet Grooming Accidents

Pet Products Liability


Wrongful Acts

Service Animals

Emotional Support Animals

Pets are Members of the Family

If you are in need of legal counsel due to an Animal or Pet law issue, The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins can help.  As an animal lover and pet guardian herself, Jessica understands the special bond we have with our pets and devotes part of her practice to ensuring the welfare of animals and that the bond between pets and their guardians is protected.  Whether you're experiencing a pet custody dispute; your pet has been injured due to veterinary malpractice; or your dog is facing a dangerous dog proceeding, The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins provides caring and dedicated counsel for you and your pet's legal matter.  The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins is also available to handle any federal claims you may have due to discrimination in connection with your service animal or emotional support animal.

The field of Animal Law has received a great deal of attention over the last decade or so and encompasses the overlapping of many areas of law.  Recent developments in law are offering pets and their people additional protections and reflect society’s views that pets are important family members -- not merely property.  No matter what question or concern you may have, or even if you're not sure if you have a case, call The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins for a consultation (646) 397-6844 in Manhattan or Melville.

Landlord-Tenant Disputes

A common issue that arises with pets concerns disputes with a landlord.  However, even if your lease contains a “No-Pets Clause,” there are certain circumstances under which it may be deemed waived or unenforceable, such as if you have a service dog or documented emotional support animal.  In addition, in New York City, there are circumstances under which the enforcement of a “No-Pets Clause” in a multiple dwelling may be waived if the pet was kept “open” and “notoriously” and the landlord knew, or should have known, about the pet for three months or more.

If you are facing a landlord-tenant dispute concerning your companion animal, The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins can help.  Call (646) 397-6844 for a consultation.

Pet Custody Disputes       

Pet owners think of their pets as their family members and cannot imagine living without them.  Going through a divorce is a stressful time in and of itself, and the question of who gets the family dog or cat in the event of divorce can be a particularly emotional issue.  Courts in New York have in recent years steered away from a strict property analysis when it comes to pet custody and may consider the “best for all concerned” standard.  Some of the factors that may be considered in determining pet custody include how the pet was acquired; who spends more time with the pet; and who bears the most responsibility for the pet’s needs.


When we entrust our beloved pets to the care of another- whether it be a veterinarian, groomer, boarder, or pet sitter, we are trusting that they will be well cared for.  It is devastating to have your pet returned only to find out that it has been injured or died.  If you believe that your animal was harmed as a result of someone else’s negligence, it is best to consult with an attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation and what legal options you may have.     

Dangerous Dog Proceedings

Most dogs are friendly companions.  However, situations can arise that provoke even the friendliest of dogs to lash out and bite or injure a person or other animal unexpectedly.  If your dog has attacked and injured another person or animal, you may be facing a lawsuit or have to appear for a dangerous dog proceeding.  Your dog may have a defense under New York law in certain circumstances -- factors considered include whether the dog was provoked into the attack; was defending itself or owner; or was responding to a trespasser or pain.  In addition, there are exceptions for law enforcement dogs in the course of carrying out their duties.

If you need to appear for a dangerous dog proceeding or require defense in a personal injury lawsuit, consider consulting with an attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.  The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins can help.  Call (646) 397-6844 for a consultation.       

Pet Trusts

As pets are treated as members of the family, we want to ensure that they are cared for when we are no longer able to care for them.  A good option to consider to ensure that pets are taken care of in the event of death or incapacity is by the creation of a Pet Trust.  Pet Trusts are recognized and enforceable in New York State and can help you plan ahead by designating a caretaker and provide them with specific instructions as to the pet’s care and preferences.  If you are concerned with making sure that your wishes will be met as to your pet’s ongoing care, consider consulting with an attorney to discuss the option of creating a Pet Trust.  Contact The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins to discuss affordable pet trust options today (646) 397-6844.

Veterinary Malpractice

Pets are members of the family.  As their guardians, we do everything we can to keep them safe, happy and healthy.  In fact, in 2018, $18.11 billion dollars was spent on veterinary care across the United States.  If our companion animals need a routine or special visit to the veterinarian, the last thing we think of is that they may end up worse.  If your companion animal has suffered an injury or fatality due to the negligence, recklessness, careless handling, or intentional acts of a veterinarian or animal care specialist, you may have a cause of action under the law.   


Generally, in order to show that your pet was injured due to veterinary malpractice, it must be shown that the veterinarian did not act in accordance with the professional standards of a competent veterinarian under the same circumstances and that their failure to do so caused the pet’s injury or death.  You must also be able to show that you suffered damages as a result.


Although animals are still considered “property” under the law, societal shifts are recognizing that pets are not only sentient beings, but members of the family.  In fact, there is currently a bill pending in the New York Assembly that, if passed, would recognize a specific tort action for the wrongful injury or death of a companion animal.  If the bill is passed, it would also allow the pet’s guardian to recover damages for loss of the pet’s companionship. 


Nonetheless, in certain cases, it may be shown that a pet was worth far more than in market value alone.  Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, you may be entitled to compensation for the loss of your beloved companion animal due to veterinary malpractice.  Call the Law Office of Jessica M. Semins at (646) 397-6844 to discuss your case today.    


Dog Grooming Accidents & Pet Grooming Accidents

As part of a dog, or other animal’s routine maintenance, it is important that they are regularly groomed.  As pet guardians, we should have peace of mind that our companion animals are well cared for when they are in the care of a groomer.  However, there have been too many tragic stories in the news about animals that have been seriously injured or died at the hands of a negligent or abusive groomer.  There are numerous types of injuries animals can be subjected to at a groomer that can lead to infection or death including:


  • Lacerations

  • Overheating

  • Exposure to pesticides or poison

  • Injuries due to being unattended on the grooming table or at a dryer

  • Lack of water

  • Dirty equipment  

  • Poor ventiliation

  • Bites from other animals


Currently, there is a bill pending in the New York State legislature that would establish standards of care and training, and require registration for pet groomers.  However, depending on the county in which you live, there may be local laws and regulations in place that must be followed by dog groomers.  For example, in New York City, animal grooming facilities are required to obtain a permit from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. 


On Long Island, Suffolk County recently passed “Ginger’s Bill” after the death of a beloved Pomeranian who died due to a groomer using unauthorized shampoos with pesticides.  Suffolk County law now requires pet grooming businesses to be registered and maintain pet health and safety standards.  To register their grooming business, pet groomers in Suffolk county also must have received a certain amount of training and complete an approved education course in pet grooming.         

If your beloved companion animal has been injured due to the negligence, recklessness, or abuse of a pet groomer or dog groomer, you may have a legal cause of action.  Contact The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins to discuss your case today (646) 397-6844.


Pet Products Liability

We strive to ensure that our pets and companion animals have healthy food and safe toys.  However, sometimes an animal can be hurt due to a defect in a product or hazardous condition.  In addition, pet food recalls and animal health care products have become all too common.  If your pet has been injured due to unsafe food or toys, you may have a cause of action depending on the facts and circumstances of your case. 


There are three types of liability when it comes to products: 1) A defect in design; 2) a manufacturing defect; 3) failure to warn.  If your pet has been injured due to a poorly designed toy, or became sick due to contaminants or foreign materials in their food, The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins can help.  Call (646) 397-6844 for a consultation.     


Wrongful Acts

It is a crime in New York State to abuse an animal.  While the District Attorney’s office can take care of the criminal side of the law by prosecuting the abuser, you may also be able to assert a civil claim against someone if they intentionally hurt or fatally injured your pet.  Contact The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins to discuss your case today (646) 397-6844.


Service Animals

Service animals are recognized under the federal law, The Americans with Disabilities Act.  Under federal law, a service animal can be a dog or a miniature horse, and the animal is specifically trained to carry out a task for the benefit of a person with a disability.  The tasks that the animal performs must be directly related to the person’s disability.  Service animals are not pets- they are working animals that are trained to take a specific action when needed. 


Under federal law, service animals are given public accommodation.  This means that service animals trained to perform tasks for a person with a disability are allowed access to public and private businesses and facilities.  If it is not obvious that the animal is a service animal, there are only two questions that a public or private entity may ask under federal law: 1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform? No further questions, including as to the nature of the disability, are permitted to be asked under federal law.


If you have been discriminated against because you have a service animal, you may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice.  In addition, you also have the legal right to file a lawsuit in federal court.  Contact The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins (646)397-6844 to discuss your case. 


Emotional Support Animals

Emotional support animals provide their handlers with many emotional benefits, including lessening stress and lowering blood pressure.  An emotional support animal can be any type of animal, and the animal is not trained to carry out any specific task.  Rather, it’s purpose is to provide comfort and companionship for someone with a psychiatric disability. 


Emotional support animals are not provided public accommodation under federal law.  While they are not offered the same legal protections as service animals, they are recognized under the federal Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act.  This means that an individual who requires an emotional support animal for the benefit of their mental health, as documented by a medical professional, must be given a reasonable accommodation.  For example, a landlord may not be able to deny you access to housing due to your need for an emotional support animal.  In addition, the Air Carrier Access Act prohibits the discrimination of a person who needs an emotional support animal in air travel. 


If you believe that you have been discriminated against under the Fair Housing Act, or Air Carrier Access Act because you have an emotional support animal, you may have a legal claim.  Contact The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins (646) 397-6844 to discuss your case today.

Contact the Law Office of Jessica M. Semins to schedule a consultation to discuss your Animal Law matter.  Call (646) 397-6844 to make an appointment. 

Attorney advertising.  The information contained herein is not meant to be construed as legal advice nor form an attorney-client relationship.  As the facts and circumstances of each case vary widely, it is best to consult with an attorney to discuss the specifics of your case.   



Attorney Advertising.  The content contained herein is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor form an attorney-client relationship. (c) 2019 The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins, Jessica M. Semins, Esq.