[HISTORY: Adopted by the Suffolk County Legislature as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable. Uncodified sections of certain local laws amending these provisions are included at the end of this chapter.]
[Adopted 8-27-1991 by L.L. No. 24-1991 (Ch. 239, Art. I, of the 1985 Code)]
This Legislature hereby finds and determines that recent allegations regarding the improper disposition of dead pet animals and misleading and deceptive business practices by a local pet cemetery have highlighted the potential for animal abuse, consumer fraud and health hazards in the pet burial field.
This Legislature further finds and determines that pet cemetery activities are currently inadequately regulated to serve the public interest.
Therefore, the purpose of this article is to establish a comprehensive program to regulate pet cemetery activities occurring within the County of Suffolk.
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Any real property or site owned, managed or operated by any person for the disposal or burial of deceased pets by cremation, grave, mausoleum, vault, columbarium or other receptacle in exchange for compensation or consideration.
- DECEPTIVE PET CEMETERY TRADE PRACTICES
- Any false, falsely disparaging or misleading oral or written statement, visual description or other representation of any kind, which has the capacity, tendency or effect of deceiving or misleading a consumer and is made in connection with the sale, lease, rental or loan of pet cemetery goods or services; or the offering for sale, lease, rental or loan of pet cemetery goods or services. Deceptive pet cemetery trade practices include, but are not limited to:
- A. Representations that:
- (1) Pet cemetery goods or services have sponsorship, approval, accessories, characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits or quantities that they do not have;
- (2) The seller of pet cemetery services has a sponsorship, approval, status, affiliation or connection that he or she or it does not have;
- (3) Pet cemetery goods are original or new when they are actually deteriorated, altered, reconditioned, reclaimed or secondhand; or
- (4) Pet cemetery goods or services are of a particular standard, quality, grade, style or model when they are actually of another.
- B. The use, in any oral or written representation regarding pet cemetery goods or services, of exaggeration, innuendo or ambiguity as to a material fact.
- C. Failure to state a material fact, if such use or failure deceived or tends to deceive.
- D. Disparaging the goods, services or business of another pet cemetery operator or owner by false or misleading representations of material facts.
- E. Offering pet cemetery goods or services without intent to sell them.
- F. Offering pet cemetery goods or services without intent to supply reasonably expectable public demand, unless the offer disclosed the limitation.
- G. Making false or misleading representations of fact concerning the reason for, existence of or amounts of price reductions, or the price in comparison to prices of competitors' or one's own price at a past or future time for pet cemetery goods or services.
- H. Falsely stating that a pet cemetery transaction provides consumer rights, remedies or obligations.
- I. Falsely stating that pet cemetery services, goods, replacements or repairs are needed.
- J. Falsely stating the reasons for offering or supplying pet cemetery goods or services at sale or discount prices.
- K. The failure by a pet cemetery owner, operator or manager to provide the precise type, method and manner of pet burial agreed to with the owner of a pet or substituting a substantially different type, matter or manner of burial for that agreed to.
- L. Unconscionable trade practices.
- LEAD AGENCY
- The County Office of Consumer Affairs.[Amended 12-17-2002 by L.L. No. 4-2003]
- LEAD AGENCY DIRECTOR
- The Director of the County Office of Consumer Affairs.[Amended 12-17-2002 by L.L. No. 4-2003]
- Any natural person, individual, corporation, unincorporated association, firm, partnership, joint venture, joint-stock association or other entity or business organization of any kind.
- Any domesticated animal kept for pleasure, not utility, and normally maintained in or near the household of the owner thereof.
- SECONDARY AGENCY
- The County Department of Health Services.
- SECONDARY AGENCY COMMISSIONER
- The Commissioner of the County Department of Health Services.
- UNCONSCIONABLE PET CEMETERY TRADE PRACTICE
- Any act or practice involving the sale of pet cemetery goods or services which unfairly takes advantage of the lack of knowledge, ability, experience or capacity of the consumer or which results in a gross disparity between the value received by a consumer and the price paid by the consumer.
No person shall own, operate or manage a pet cemetery within the County of Suffolk without first obtaining a license therefor from the lead agency in accordance with the provisions of this article.
[Amended 12-17-2002 by L.L. No. 4-2003]
Application for license; qualifications; issuance of license.
[Amended 8-27-1996 by L.L. No. 20-1996; 12-17-2002 by L.L. No. 4-2003]
All applications for licenses shall be submitted, in writing, on forms furnished by the lead agency and shall be accompanied by a nonrefundable application fee in the amount of $200. The fee for a license shall be $200 per annum. It may be renewed biennially for $400. No application fee shall be imposed on nonprofit or not-for-profit corporations or organizations.
[Amended 8-5-2008 by L.L. No. 32-2008]
The license application shall be filed by the actual operator of a pet cemetery and shall be signed under oath. Where a corporation is an applicant or a participant in an application, the application shall be signed under oath by an officer of such corporation.
All applications shall include the residence address and telephone number of the individual who subscribes his or her name to the application.
The lead agency director may require the names and residence addresses of any employees or officers of the applicant, in addition to any other information which he or she may deem advisable and proper.
An individual applicant must be at least 18 years of age and shall not have been convicted within the three years prior to the date of application of a crime involving unfair trade practices, extortion, coercion, bribery, theft, fraud, violence (specifically relating to business, labor or commerce), sabotage, collusion, restraint of trade, conspiracy and/or attempts of any said offenses.
The lead agency director shall investigate such applicant as to good character before he or she shall issue the applicant a license.
Applicants shall meet the requirements prescribed by this article and any other rules or regulations promulgated hereafter by the lead agency director.
The lead agency shall issue a license to each applicant who has submitted satisfactory evidence of his or her qualifications and who has complied with all of the requirements of this article.
License term, renewal and conditions.
All licenses shall be issued for a period of two years from the date of issuance thereof and shall expire on the last day of the 24th month following such issuance.
No license issued hereunder shall be assignable or transferable except as hereinafter provided. The application for such transfer or assignment shall be accompanied by the requirements of Subsection B of this section and by proof satisfactory to the lead agency that the requirements herein provided have been complied with. No assignment or transfer shall become effective unless and until the endorsement has been made on the face of the license by the lead agency and such license, so endorsed, has been returned to the assignee or transferee. All such endorsements shall be made without payment of any fee.
A license to conduct the business of operating a pet cemetery or pet crematorium issued to an individual may be assigned or transferred to a partnership or corporation for the remainder of the license period if such individual is a member of such partnership or an officer of such corporation at the time of such assignment of transfer.
A license issued to a partnership may be assigned or transferred to an individual for the remainder of the license period to any one member of such partnership, provided that he or she obtains the consent of all of the other members of such partnership.
A license issued to a corporation may be assigned or transferred to an individual for the remainder of the license period to any officer of the corporation, provided that he or she obtains the consent of all of the other officers of such corporation.
An application for renewal of a pet cemetery license shall be made on a form provided by the lead agency, accompanied by the required fee. Said application shall be filed with the lead agency not less than 30 days prior to the expiration of the existing license. Failure to file an application as above shall require the applicant to submit an application as if it were an original application. An application shall be filed with the lead agency following revocation of a license. A license shall expire upon a change of owner or operator, on the date stipulated by the lead agency, upon revocation, upon death of the license holder, upon abandonment of the facility or property or upon surrender to the lead agency.
Each licensee shall, within 10 business days prior to a change of address or business name, notify the lead agency, in writing, of such change.
No licensee shall authorize or permit the use of his or her license by or on behalf of any other person.
Each licensee shall, within seven business days after a change of address or business name, notify the lead agency, in writing, of such change.
Fines; suspension or revocation of licenses.
[Amended 12-17-2002 by L.L. No. 4-2003]
The lead agency director shall have the power to impose a civil fine, not to exceed $1,000, upon a licensee or to suspend or revoke a license or to deny an application for the renewal of a license for any one or more of the following causes:
Fraud, deceit, misrepresentation or bribery in securing a license.
The making of any false statement in an application for a license.
Operation of a pet cemetery without obtaining a license therefor or having had a valid license suspended or revoked or continued operation of such pet cemetery under a suspended or revoked license.
Violation of any other provision of this article or any rule or regulation promulgated hereunder.
Requirements and restrictions. Any person holding a license under this article shall comply with the following:
Any pet cemetery and any of its records required to be maintained by any municipality or by the secondary agency commissioner pursuant to any rules or regulations adopted hereunder shall be open to inspection at any time by the secondary agency commissioner or his or her duly authorized agents at any reasonable time, including but not limited to normal business hours. A periodic, unannounced inspection of said facilities by a professional shall be made to check on any violations of this article or any regulations issued pursuant to this article with a written report of said inspection to be sent to the governing agency.
Any structure or structures of a pet cemetery shall meet the standards promulgated by the lead agency for the protection of air, land, water and groundwater of Suffolk County.
Any building of a pet cemetery shall be maintained in a sufficient state of repair to properly dispose of dead pets in a manner that affords dignity to the dead pet and ensures the public health and safety.
Any pet cemetery shall provide appropriate space sufficient for each pet to be buried individually.
Any grave of a pet cemetery shall include an area that is of proper depth, length and width to contain said pet without impinging on another grave site.
No more than four pets (separate vaults or containers) shall be buried in any one site in any pet cemetery.
At least one approved receptacle for containing trash and litter shall be provided in any pet cemetery.
Any pet cemetery shall provide isolation areas for dead pets which had communicable diseases or were suspected of having such diseases prior to death.
Any pet cemetery shall contain proper areas and containers for food storage to prevent contamination from mold, insects and rodents.
Animal and food wastes, bedding, debris and other organic wastes in any pet cemetery shall be disposed of in such a way as to avoid vermin infestation, odors and disease hazards.
The bodies of dead pets at any pet cemetery shall be physically separated and shall be stored and disposed of in such a way as to avoid disease hazards to other pets or to humans.
Buildings and grounds at any pet cemetery shall be kept clean, in good repair and free of trash and debris.
Every dead pet entering any pet cemetery shall be assigned an individual number to enable identification of that pet.
Records shall be kept by the pet cemetery, for at least a five-year period, of the source from which any pet was obtained, the medical history of the pet and the eventual disposition of the pet.
Any pet cemetery shall exist solely for the purpose of properly disposing of pets. Said pets shall not, under any circumstances, ever be sold, donated or otherwise delivered to any institution for experimental purposes or medical research without the written and acknowledged consent of the pet owner.
In the event that a pet cemetery is sold or transferred to another person for purposes other than that of a pet cemetery or is converted by the owner to a different purpose, then the owner so selling, converting or transferring such site shall notify the owners of all buried pets, in writing, at least three months prior to the actual conveyance, conversion or transfer of said site.
No person shall engage in any deceptive pet cemetery trade practice or unconscionable pet cemetery trade practice within the County of Suffolk.
No person owning, operating or managing a pet cemetery within the County of Suffolk shall remove the dead body of a pet or any part thereof from a grave, vault, mausoleum, columbarium or other place or receptacle where the same has been buried or from a place where the same has been deposited while awaiting burial without authority of law.
No person owning, operating or managing a pet cemetery within the County of Suffolk shall obtain, receive or exact or attempt to obtain, receive or exact a fee or thing of value in addition to the regular charges or fees required to be paid pursuant to the burial agreement with the pet cemetery.
Any and all moneys paid to a person who owns, operates or manages a pet cemetery within the County of Suffolk for a pet funeral or a pet burial, wherein the personal services to be furnished shall not be delivered until the death of the animal in question, shall be treated as trust funds in the possession of such person and shall be deposited by him or her or it within 10 days after receipt thereof in a special account maintained exclusively for the deposit of such moneys in a bank or trust company in which funds may be deposited by a fiduciary and shall be so held on deposit, together with any interest thereon, until said personal services have been rendered, and further provided that:
The amount of any and all moneys paid under or in connection with such an agreement, together with interest, if any, accrued thereon while on deposit as so required shall be repaid on demand at any time prior to the delivery of the personal property or the rendering of the personal services.
Any provision of any such agreement whereby a person who pays money under or in connection therewith waives any provision of Subsection D of this section shall be null and void.
This subsection shall not apply to the sale of lots or graves by a pet cemetery.
Any person who or which, having received any moneys under or in connection with an agreement covered by § 370-4D of this article, shall fail to deposit or keep on deposit or to repay any and all such moneys as provided in this section shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or a term of imprisonment of up to one year in jail.
A violation of any provision of § 370-4A or of any rule or regulation promulgated thereunder shall also be punishable, upon proof thereof, by the payment of a civil penalty in the sum of not more than $1,000 for each such violation, to be recovered in a civil action. Each day that the violation continues shall be deemed a separate violation.
Whenever any person has engaged in any acts or practices which constitute repeated or persistent violations of § 370-4A of this article or any rule or regulation promulgated hereunder, the County Attorney, upon the request of the lead agency director, may commence an action in the name of the County for a restraining order, temporary or permanent injunction or other equitable relief.
[Amended 12-17-2002 by L.L. No. 4-2003]
[Amended 6-17-2014 by L.L. No. 32-2014]
All moneys received by the lead agency pursuant to the provisions of this article shall be remitted to the County Comptroller for deposit in the general fund of the County within 30 days after receipt.
[Amended 12-17-2002 by L.L. No. 4-2003]
The lead agency director, in conjunction with the secondary agency commissioner, shall issue, promulgate and adopt such rules and regulations as he or she shall deem necessary and sufficient to carry out and implement the purposes of this article.
The initial licenses required by § 370-3 of this article shall be applied for within 90 days subsequent to the effective date of this article.
This article shall be null and void on the day that statewide or nationwide legislation goes into effect, incorporating either the same or substantially similar provisions as are contained in this article, or in the event that a pertinent state or federal administrative agency issues and promulgates regulations preempting such action by the County of Suffolk. The County Legislature may determine, via mere resolution, whether or not identical or substantially similar statewide legislation has been enacted for the purposes of triggering the provisions of this section.
[Amended 12-17-2002 by L.L. No. 4-2003]
All records required by the lead agency director and secondary agency commissioner shall be filed with the lead and secondary agencies from time to time as required by said director and commissioner.
This article shall apply to all provisions occurring on or after the effective date of this article.