NEW YORK CITY — New York is banning the use of public toilets and changing rooms to flush illegal pet urine, the city’s public health department announced on Thursday.
The move comes after a wave of protests against the practice, including one by the pet-loving city’s top lawyer who said he wanted to “kick the habit” of urinating on the sidewalks in the Big Apple’s financial district.
New York City’s public-health department said it has launched an investigation into the use and distribution of pet pee and feces in public spaces, including changing rooms.
City health department officials said they will work to ensure that the policy is implemented across the city and ensure that people who are at risk of contracting infectious diseases and exposing themselves to bacteria will be protected.
In a statement, the department said the goal of the plan is to address the widespread public-at-large problem of pet-peeing.
“There are no public spaces in the city that are exempt from this ban,” the department wrote.
“This is in contrast to our efforts to protect public health and safety, and to ensure people who consume pets are not exposed to infectious disease.”
A spokesman for the mayor said he is concerned about the “significant health risks” that people could pose by urinating in public and he called on the city to “put a stop to the widespread use of pet urine in public places.”
The city has banned the use or distribution of public urinals and changing facilities to flush pets’ waste.
The ban comes after protests against pet-peeing by animal rights activists in recent years, including by one who was arrested after peeing on the sidewalk outside the White House and in a park.
Animal rights activists are pushing to eliminate the use, possession and disposal of feces and urine by owners in New York, which has the highest rate of chronic wasting in the U.S. and the second-highest rate of pet overpopulation.