The Federation is focused on supporting legislation that will help animals and support animal welfare organizations in New York State. There are many pieces of legislation introduced in the State Legislature every year and while the Federation might not take a position on every bill, we do focus on those we feel will have the most impact. The Fed has been very successful in its efforts. Since 2017, we’ve secured the $5 million Companion Animal Capital Fund for capital projects at shelters across New York in each state budget. We passed bills banning the leasing of pet in NYS, enabling local municipalities to shorten the length of stay for unidentified cats that come into shelters, and broadening the residency requirements for peace officers serving the Hudson Valley Humane Society and the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society.
2022 Humane Agenda: Our top legislative initiatives
Companion Animal Capital Fund: The First in the Nation Funding Stream for Animal Shelter Capital Projects
When the FY21-22 State budget passed, it continued the $5M Companion Animal Capital Fund after a year’s hiatus because of the COVID pandemic. On November 19, 2021, Governor Hochul announced the fourth round of Companion Animal Capital Grants from this funding. The third RFP process for the Companion Animal Capital Fund closed in January 2020 (FY19-20 budget) and awards were made to 12 shelters despite the COVID19 pandemic. The Fund has now made $20,000,000 available to shelters across New York.
The New York State Animal Protection Federation is seeking to increase the fund to $10 million moving forward. We’re asking Governor Hochul to add $5 million into the Executive Budget and we’ll pursue an equal amount of funding from the Legislature—which has historically provided the program’s funding.
Last year’s language corrected an inequity in the final budget language for the first three years. Under the original language, animal shelters without municipal contracts were not able to receive any meaningful funding. The RFP just released enables shelters without municipal contracts to receive up to $200,000 with a 50% match. These shelters provide needed sheltering services for homeless companion animals and many work hand-in-hand with local nonprofit shelters with municipal contacts as well as municipal shelters.
The Companion Animal Capital Fund is the first in the nation funding stream for capital projects at New York’s network of animal shelters.
This video was produced for the effort to get the Fund back in the budget last year after funding for just about everything was cut in the FY20 budget because of the pandemic. Last year, this year–the message is the same, the Companion Animal Capital Fund is vital for the health and well being of our homeless animals.
- Shelter and Rescue Facility & Care Standards (Paulin 6246/Addabbo S.6870): The proposed bill uses the Association of Shelter Veterinarians guidelines to improve shelter management and care. It will include, but is not limited to, setting standards for training, record keeping and reporting, physical plant, housing, sanitation, veterinary care, behavior care, euthanasia, transportation and inspection. With the $20M investment the state has made in the physical plants of shelters across NYS with the Companion Animal Capital Fund, it is time to also enhance operational and care standards.
- Stopping the Puppy Mill Pipeline (Gianaris S.1130/Rosenthal A.4283): This bill would stop the puppy mill pipeline into New York State. Instead of selling animals (puppies, kittens and rabbits) that come from breeding factories, pet stores would have the opportunity to rebrand as humane businesses and host shelter and rescue adoption events. In 2020, pet owners across the country spent over $103 billion on their animals. According to the American Pets Product Association, live animal sales figures (dogs and cats) are difficult to come by and are a relatively small contributor to overall sales. However, those sales are of animals that come from It is time for New York to say no to these mills—actually dog, cat and rabbit factories. In the case of puppies, female dogs are placed in cages day in and day out purely to breed. They are impregnated. They deliver. Within weeks, they’re impregnated again. When they are no longer “of use” to the puppy mill, they are usually euthanized.
- The bill passed the Senate in 2021 session 57-6.
- The bill was referred to the Assembly Rules Committee after advancing out of the Assembly Agriculture and Codes Committees.
- Prohibition of Dog Breed Discrimination in Insurance Policies for Renters (Rosenthal A.549/ Hoylman S.1000—bills need to be revised): This measure would prohibit insurance companies from cancelling, refusing to issue or increasing premiums on renter’s insurance for owning a specific breed of dog. We passed the same bill for homeowners, now let’s get it done for renters.
- Unfit Owner/Animals in Distress. In 1997 New York enacted its first security posting law, designed to assist shelters and their ACO/DCOs in two ways: (a) provide for a means to obtain funding from the accused to care for an animal while in their custody, and (b) establish a means by which the court can order owner surrender of such animal to facilitate best disposition outcome for him/her. This is not a perfect law nor a good fit for all, especially in elderly/hoarding cases, where pursuit of criminal charges is not always the best approach or where there is opportunity to prevent a situation from escalating into misdemeanor cruelty. This proposal would take a page from other states like Florida that have a civil process where a court can deem an owner unfit and order surrender.
- “Return to Owner” Fee Cap. In 2010, New York reformed its dog licensing laws to allow local governments the flexibility to put licensing, renewal, redemption and other fees at levels they deem appropriate (previously the state controlled all local fees). Unfortunately, some municipal governments have set redemption fees so high – in some cases as much as $500 – that owners cannot afford to redeem their pet. This runs contrary to the legislature’s intent and the mission of animal shelters that seek to prioritize keeping families and pets together.
- “Return to Owner” from Field. This proposal would allow an ACO/DCO to respond to a call of an animal at-large, make an attempt to contact the owner while in the field and reunite the two when possible. This is currently not permissible in state law, yet allowing this process would eliminate considerable impoundment costs to shelters and encourage a philosophy shift (from “dog catcher” to “savior” in eyes of the public) and would also allow the DCO to serve as an educator of low-cost services when returning dogs to owners.
- Aggravated Cruelty to Animals, AGM 353-a: Amend definition of Serious Physical Injury: As it currently stands, when proving aggravated animal cruelty pursuant to AML 353-a, one element that must be proven is that the animal suffered serious physical injury (SPI) or death.
- The definition of SPI is the same definition that applies to human assault cases, Penal Law § 10.00(10). This section defines SPI as “physical injury which creates a substantial risk of death, or which causes death or serious and protracted disfigurement, protracted impairment of health or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ.”
- Proving SPI in human injury cases is often established through the testimony of the victim as to his or her ongoing symptoms, pain and/or other impairment as compared to a prior status.
- Since such testimony is not possible for animals, requiring the same level of proof often results in the inability to prove SPI absent extreme injury (i.e. loss of a body part). The ASPCA can offer many case examples to illustrate some serious injuries where SPI would not be provable according to the PL definition.
- Prohibit/restrict dogs in pickup trucks: Many states, including ME, NH, MA, CT and RI, prohibit placing animals in the beds of pickup trucks. Some states cover all animals, while others just cover dogs. New York has no such law, and while AGM Section 359 does prohibit “carrying an animal in a cruel manner” (as do to a handful of other states), to our knowledge the NY statute is not expressly applicable to dogs or other animals riding unsecured in the back of pickups.
- Lowering the sales threshold for home-based breeders from 25 to 15 (Paulin A4023): While the Pre-Emption Bill passed at the end of the 2013 session was a good start, it is clear that without pro-active measures on the state’s part local governments are not going to move as quickly as hoped. Lowering the sales threshold to 15 will enable local governments to more effectively protect dogs by bringing disreputable breeders to justice.
Successes in 2021 Legislative Session
SUCCESS: E-Scribing Mandate for Veterinarians
The proposal to compel veterinarians to e-prescribe, per the Governor’s budget proposal, would have significant negative impacts on the state’s network of animal shelters. Click here to read our memo. The Fed, working with the Veterinary Medical Society of New York State, were successful in removing this mandate from the budget.
SUCCESS: Vaccines for Shelter Workers
The Fed has been working to get Shelter Workers on the 1b list for COVID vaccination. Click here for more information. Once vaccinations were made available to public facing nonprofit employees, Shelter Workers became available for the vaccine.
SUCCESS: Governor Hochul Signs Bill to Ban Insurance Discrimination in Pet Ownership (Gianaris S.4254/Glick A.4075): Presently, insurance companies routinely deny homeowners and renters insurances to people who own pit bulls. This insurance discrimination has to stop—it just reinforces the negative stereotypes about pit bulls and keeps more of them in shelters rather than in loving homes. Click here for our memo.
SUCCESS: Governor Hochul Signs Bill to Mandate Veterinary Reporting of Suspected Cruelty: (Gianaris S.5023/Rosenthal A. 5823) One way to continue to fight animal cruelty is to require veterinarians to report suspected cruelty to police or authorized SPCA humane officers. Click here for our memo.