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.

Our 2018 Legislative Agenda

Companion Animal Capital Fund
Click the link above for the Federation’s 2018 sign on letter.
On Tuesday, February 27th, the awards for the first round of the Companion Animal Capital Fund were made. 14 shelters across the state received just under $5 million. There were 29 applications for $13 million—clearly not ever shelter was able to receive the funding they needed.

The $5 million re-appropriation that is in the FY2019 budget proposal has now been awarded. We are looking to add a new $5 million funding stream for this coming fiscal year.

There is an overwhelming need to assist the state’s humane societies, SPCAs and nonprofit and municipal animal shelters to maintain and improve their infrastructure through capital projects.

As private, not for profits, the state’s humane societies and Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCAs) do not receive any direct state funding. Yet, they provide an essential service to their local communities.  Article 7, Section 114 of Agriculture and Markets Law requires every municipality to operate an animal shelter. For those municipalities that do not have their own shelters, they contract directly with their local humane society, SPCA or nonprofit animal shelter. This saves taxpayers dollars—the contracts cost much less than the municipality staffing and managing an animal shelter of their own.

When we proposed the creation of the Companion Animal Capital Fund in FY 2018, our hope would be that it was a recurring source of capital funds for humane societies, SPCAs and nonprofit and municipal shelters.

With better facilities more people will come to the states’ animal shelters to adopt companion animals. We will also be able to construct more efficient facilities that streamline the cost of operation.

Rehoming Cats Bill: Decrease Hold Time on Cats
S.177B (Marchione)/A.9970 (Jenne)
Click here to download the Federation’s memo in support of this bill.
Click here to down the Federation’s Rehome Cats Infographic.

Currently, New York’s animal shelters have to hold all cats brought in. In New York City, the hold time is 72 hours. For the rest of the state, it is five to seven days. The Federation is proposing that owner surrendered cats and cats who come in without identification be put up for adoption or transfer on the third day following assessment and spay/neutering, if the shelter routinely provides spay/neuter services.

The mandatory holding period is intended to give unidentified lost cats a chance to be reclaimed by owners searching for them at their local animal shelter.

We have found, however, that only 4% of the cats that come into New York’s shelters are reclaimed by their owners. And, the reclamation usually happens within 48 hours.

69% of all cats that come into the shelter are either owner surrender or stray cats. Of these cats, 90% are adopted. Our goal is to get them adopted more quickly and hopefully increase that rate.

The average length of stay for these cats in New York shelters is 37 days for cats under one year and 88.5 days for cats over one year. Consequently, the number of Care Days in 2016–the number of total days individual cats are cared for in one year in our shelters–is 1,150,253 days. If the costs per day to care for one cat is $10.00 (and most would argue it is significantly higher) the cost to 90 sheltering organizations across New York minimally exceeds $11.5M annually. 

Shelter administrators have long known that longer mandatory holding times for these cats does not serve the best interests of the cats themselves, the organizations caring for them or the communities in which they reside. Shelters are very stressful places for cats and can have significant negative impacts on not only their health and well-being. Most sheltering facilities house cats in high-density environments where they have daily exposure to animals with unknown medical histories and disease risk. At the same time, many animals admitted to shelters have had little or no preventive care prior to admission. These factors, coupled with the direct effects of significant stress, create a situation where there is a high potential that sheltered cats will become infected with a variety of contagious diseases, including upper respiratory infections, ringworm, and panleukopenia.

The practice of taking in stray cats and holding them for 5-7 days is outdated and does not serve cats, animal shelters, municipalities, or the community. Amending current legislation to allow shelters alternatives to outdated solutions is an important step in helping New York State implement humane practices concerning animals in our communities. Without alternatives it is very possible that private shelters may be forced to stop accepting stray cats increasing the burden on municipalities tremendously.

Peace Officer Residency Requirements
S.9694 (Marchione)/A.9877 (McDonald)
Click here to download the Federation’s Memo of Support
Presently, peace officers–the folks who work along side law enforcement on animal cruelty cases–have to live within the County that the shelter they are affiliated with is physically located and registered. This has put shelters that serve more than one county at a disadvantage. They are unable to bring the best folks in to work on these issues.

The Federation is working to change the residency requirements for the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society which is the chartered SPCA for both Albany and Rensselaer Counties. Since the shelter is located in Albany County, only residents of that county can be MHHS peace officers. The Federation is supporting S.9694/A.9877 that would amend Section 3-B of the Public Officers Law to allow MHHS to hire peace officers from counties adjacent to Albany County.

Currently, Section 3-B of the Public Officers Law provides exceptions to this restriction for the SPCAS in Nassau, Suffolk and Allegany counties. In Nassau and Suffolk counties, residents of either county can be appointed to be SPCA Peace Officers. Additionally, the Allegany County SPCA is allowed to recruit and appoint Peace Officers from adjacent counties. This allows Nassau, Suffolk, and Allegany SPCAs to expand their force and rescue more animals from cruelty.