Is it Legal to Own a Pet Tiger in New York?

NOTE: We only handle cases involving accidents and injuries. This article is for informational purposes only. Information found in the article does not constitute formal legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. We cannot help you beyond the information provided below if you are interested in getting a pet tiger.

Many people want to own tigers as household pets. However, the laws of New York State prohibit the possession, exchange, sale, import, transfer, or barter of wild animals as pets. The law also prohibits the intentional release of wild animals owned as a pet.

New York Consolidated Laws ENV §11-0103(6)(e) defines wild animals as:

  • Nonhuman prosimians and primates;
  • Cats, except for domesticated cats;
  • Dogs, except for domesticated dogs and captive-bred Fennec foxes;
  • Bears;
  • Most venomous reptiles; and,
  • Crocodiles.

If you live in New York City, the list of prohibited animals as pets is longer. It is always best to check with your local government offices to determine if city or county laws prohibit owning a certain animal as a pet, especially wild animals or exotic animals.

The law does not prohibit certain entities and individuals from owning wild animals for a purpose other than as a pet. Research facilities, state universities, zoological facilities, and wildlife sanctuaries are examples of entities that may legally own wild animals in New York. The entities must have the required licenses and follow all restrictions for possessing wildlife.

Tigers and Other Large Cats do not Make Good Pets

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, tigers are dangerous pets. The USDA’s position is that trained professionals should handle the care of tigers and other exotic animals. Special knowledge of the animals and their care is required to maintain the animals properly.

Because average individuals are unaware of the special requirements for handling wild animals, they may expose the public to unnecessary dangers. For example, they may take wild animals into situations and places that could endanger the public. Even if the tigers are kept at home as pets, anyone visiting the home could be in danger.

Housing, feeding, and caring for tigers requires special knowledge. A tiger that is not restrained and housed properly could escape. Tigers that are simply “playing” could injure individuals or other animals.

In addition to protecting the public, the tiger’s well-being is also taken into consideration when drafting the laws regarding pet ownership. A lack of experience could lead to the inadequate care of the tiger as a pet. Special diet needs and veterinary care can be difficult and expensive to obtain.

Tiger Owners are Liable for Injuries and Damage Caused by Their Pets

If a tiger were to injure another person, the tiger’s owner would be liable for damages caused by the attack. The same is true for other pet owners in New York.

For example, dog owners can be held liable under the state’s dog bite laws if a dog bites another person. If a dog bites another person, the dog owner is strictly liable for the cost of medical care related to the dog attack.

If the dog owner knew or should have known that the dog had a history of biting or attacking people or other animals, the owner can be held liable for other damages in a dog bite claim.  A dog bite claim may include damages such as:

  • Cost of medical care;
  • Loss of income and wages;
  • Scarring and disfigurement;
  • Emotional distress;
  • Disability and permanent impairment;
  • Physical pain and suffering;
  • Loss of enjoyment of life or quality of life;
  • Reduced earning potential; and, other damages and losses.

The dog bite laws in New York can be confusing and difficult to understand. There could be instances in which strict liability does not apply. A dog bite attorney reviews the claim to determine if a victim has a legal claim under the dog bite laws. In some cases, a victim could have a premises liability claim against a property owner, if the property owner was negligent in some way.

Determining the parties liable for an animal attack is crucial. Claims must be filed against the liable parties to recover compensation for a claim. Involving an attorney early in the process of filing a claim can increase the chance of recovering a fair amount for your claim.

Animal Attacks can Result in Serious Injuries

A domesticated dog may not appear to be as dangerous as a tiger. However, even a dog can cause severe injuries and life-threatening conditions. Common injuries sustained in a dog attack include:

  • Broken bones and fractures
  • Head injuries, including skull fractures and traumatic brain injuries
  • Puncture wounds
  • Infections
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Soft tissue damage, including nerve, muscle, and tendon damage
  • Crushing injuries
  • Paralysis and spinal cord injuries

The injuries caused by a dog attack could result in death, especially when the victim is a child or a vulnerable adult. A tiger could cause far more severe injuries on a human. The long-term complications and impairments caused by a tiger attack could change a victim’s life forever.

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New York, NY 10007
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