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NY bill would require licensing of dog obedience trainers

On Monday, Dec. 19, 2016, in Oceanside, Sen. Todd Kaminsky was joined by Assemb.-elect Missy Miller and members of the Nassau County SPCA to propose state legislation to create a license for dog obedience trainers. (Credit: Johnny Milano)

State Sen. Todd Kaminsky has introduced legislation requiring dog obedience trainers to be licensed after a video went viral this month of a pit bull being aggressively poked with a pole while in a crate at an Oceanside facility.

Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) and Assemb.-elect Missy Miller (R-Atlantic Beach) announced the bill Monday at the Oceanside home of Tommy Marrone, who exposed the abuse on his Facebook page.

Kaminsky called the video “stomach-turning” and said his bill would require the state to create professional standards and curriculum for dog trainers. Dog obedience trainers are not regulated in New York State.

Individuals previously convicted of animal abuse would be denied a license and agencies such as the SPCA would be charged with enforcing violations.

“I was shocked to find that we are totally in an unregulated field where there is no license for dog obedience trainers,” Kaminsky said Monday. “There is no one checking the qualifications of such individuals.”

Miller plans to introduce a companion bill in the Assembly after she is sworn in next month. “When we go to a dog training facility we should not have to worry if they are licensed or not,” she said.

The video, which was posted on Facebook on Dec. 9, shows a pit bull at NYDogWorks in Oceanside cowering and yelping while appearing to be repeatedly prodded by Brian DeMartino, who owns and runs the board-away facility out of his home. The video has had more than 105,000 views on Facebook.

The Town of Hempstead issued multiple citations to DeMartino for illegally operating a business out of his home and construction without a permit.

Efforts to reach DeMartino on Monday were not successful.

Gary Rogers, head of the Nassau County SPCA, said other dogs may have been abused at NYDogWorks.

“This is horrendous and very disturbing,” Rogers said. “You don’t beat a dog into submission.”

The Nassau County district attorney’s animal crimes unit is investigating NYDogWorks, a spokesman said.

Marrone said he brought his German shepherd Zeus to NYDogWorks in June. When he picked Zeus up two weeks later, the dog was missing teeth and now suffers from anxiety issues, he said.

Kaminsky said he would reintroduce the legislation, which expires at the end of the year, when the State Senate returns to session in early 2017.

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