Animal Rights Bureau

I will establish an Animal Rights Bureau within the Manhattan District Attorney’s office staffed with attorneys, social workers, investigators, and support staff who are passionate and experienced animal advocates, and who share my decarceral vision for the DA’s office. The District Attorney’s office should stand up for the rights of all living creatures, including animals. I will use the power of this office to protect animals’ rights and ensure that they are treated humanely. 

I will focus our investigations and work on a variety of animal rights issues, such as local pet stores that participate in “puppy mill” supply chains for abuse and neglect and incidents of dog fighting rings. 

As for animal abuse in the food chain, I will not hesitate to pursue cases where businesses engage in false advertising and deceptive marketing practices in order to deceive their customers about the treatment of the animals whose meat, eggs, and dairy they offer. In cases of individuals abusing or mistreating animals, the Bureau will seek the appropriate non-incarceratory sentences to ensure that the offending behavior is not repeated by addressing the underlying issues and conditions that led to the conduct. 

Addressing the underlying problem of violence toward animals

Cases involving animal abuse will be taken seriously. However, my office will always seek to handle cases in a manner that addresses the underlying problem to ensure that no future animal, or person, is harmed, rather than just imposing a jail or prison sentence. As with all cases, the presumption will be treatment rather than incarceration. My office will always push for expanded access to mental health resources outside of the criminal legal system.

Being thrown in jail or prison will not correct the behavior of a person who has harmed an animal, but setting a person on a course toward therapy and treatment may. Avoiding a sentence of incarceration has the added benefit of removing the nearly endless list of consequences that an individual suffers in prison and upon release, both of which lead to recidivism. 

My approach to these animal welfare cases is consistent with my approach to all cases. In all instances, my goal will be to make the world a safer place — not to simply inflict punitive punishments that will lead to cycles of recidivism. Harsher punishments do not deter crimes like animal abuse. Treating the underlying problems that lead to this type of violence is much more likely to prevent it from occurring in the first place.

Prosecuting corporations that mistreat animals or falsely advertise their treatment of animals

My office will fully investigate incidents of corporate animal abuse and prosecute appropriately. We will aim to hire investigators with experience pursuing animal rights cases to ensure that these cases are handled with expertise. An experienced staff member from the Bureau will always be on call for animal rights issues. Furthermore, my office will investigate and prosecute violations of hygiene, health, and safety standards — for both animals and the workers in those industries, which we know are rife with many types of abuse. I would prioritize holding these industrial producers accountable for the litany of animal cruelty law violations for which they have repeatedly skirted responsibility.

My office will also prosecute cases of false advertising regarding animal treatment.[1] Consumers are often willing to pay more for humanely produced goods, and as a consequence companies are willing to go to great lengths to convince consumers that their products are humanely sourced. Oftentimes this labeling is false or deceptive. False advertising laws exist to make sure that consumers are getting the information they need to make their own choices, and New York law would allow a prosecution to protect customers under Penal Law §190.20. If my office is presented with a case alleging that a business has engaged in false advertising as it relates to animal products, I will not hesitate to prosecute. If a company has an office or facility or headquarters in New York County, they would fall within my jurisdiction. Holding corporations accountable for deceptive practices that have not only local, but also national and international impact, will be a major priority of my office. 

Advocating for legislative change

I will advocate for legislative changes that protect animals, including an end to the carriage horse industry, which leads to the abuse, injury, and death of horses. I will also support legislation to ban the sale of fur in New York.[2] In addition, I will support legislation that grants non-profit organizations standing to sue corporations over false advertising claims.[3]

Policy Changes
  • I will create an Animal Rights Bureau within the District Attorney’s office, staffed with advocates and activists who are dedicated to protecting animals.
  • The Bureau will focus on holding corporations accountable for large-scale abuse and mistreatment of animals.
  • In line with my broadly decarceral approach, the Bureau will aim to handle individual cases in a way that addresses the underlying problem rather than seeking lengthy prison sentences that create cycles of recidivism.
  • I will advocate for legislative change to protect animals’ rights on a range of issues.


[1] False advertising is a Class A misdemeanor

[2] See New York Assembly Bill 703

[3] See New York Assembly Bill 2495