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 2017 Legislative Agenda
Companion Animal Capital Fund
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.
We propose the creation of the Companion Animal Capital Fund—a new, recurring $5 million funding stream. This fund would provide humane societies, SPCAs and nonprofit and municipal shelters with grants for shelter capital projects through a competitive application process. Projects need to be shovel ready. This is a matching grant program–50% from the shelter, 50% from the Fund. In high poverty areas, the match would be 25/75.
The Companion Animal Capital Fund will enable eligible sheltering organizations to focus their fund raising efforts on those programs that enhance the care of the dogs and cats in their facilities as well as within the community. This initiative will put funding for shelter capital projects where it is needed—with our state’s humane societies, SPCAs and nonprofit and municipal shelters . Updated and upgraded facilities will enhance animal care and health, increase humane education and create more companion animal adoptions.
Standardizing Microchips for Companion Animals
A.1839 (Rosenthal)/S.4570 (Tedisco)
Click here to download the Federation’s PowerPoint deck on this initiative.
Click here to download the Federation’s memo in support of this bill.
When we try to tackle the issue of lost companion animals, the most effective way proven to return lost animals to their owners is the use of microchips.
A 2009 study of more than 7,700 stray animals in the United States at animal shelters showed that dogs without microchips were returned to their owners 21.9% of the time, whereas microchipped dogs were returned to their owners 52.2% of the time. Cats without microchips were reunited with their owners only 1.8% of the time, whereas microchipped cats went back home 38.5% of the time.
We have seen in Texas as well as in Canada, Australia, England and across Europe, standardization of chips and readers coupled with mandatory chipping has the highest rate of return.
Standardizing microchips and readers will greatly ease the economic strain lost animals place on the state’s animal shelters. When reviewing 2015 numbers from the 88 animal shelters across New York State that use PetPoint for managing their shelter statistics, we found the following:
|Intake of Strays||Return to Owner||Days of Care||Cost of Care|
Standardizing microchips and readers as well as mandating registration will enable New York’s animal shelters to cut costs and enhance the overall care of the companion animals in their charge.
Standardizing the frequency of microchips used in New York State
It is essential that the chips implanted are on a standard frequency. Australia and Canada have both standardized chip frequency on the national level. These chips conform to the International Organization for Standardization using ISO 11784 and ISO 11785. ISO 11784 specifies the structure of the identification code. ISO 11785 specifies how the chip is activated and how the stored information is transferred to a chip scanner. The chips should also be ISO Conformant Full Duplex and run at a frequency of 134.2 kHz
Standardizing Chip Readers
Standardizing chips won’t do anyone any good unless we also standardize chip readers. It is essential that both veterinarians and animal shelters upgrade their readers to the standardized frequency we are recommending. There are some readers on the market that say they are universal. However, none of the scanners had 100% sensitivity.
Chipping doesn’t work unless the owner information isn’t registered properly. The those who implant the chips (veterinarians or shelters) would be responsible for sending the registration information to the manufacturer who then maintains the information in a centralized database. Animal care workers can access that information when scanning a lost animal with the goal of reuniting a lost animal with her or his family.
The New York State Animal Protection Federation strongly supports the standardization of both microchips and readers and the mandatory registration of those chips to help shelters return lost animals to their owners.
The Expedited Adoption Bill: Decrease Hold Time on Cats
Waiting for new 2017 bill numbers
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 immediately 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 5% of the cats that come into New York’s shelters are reclaimed by their owners. In fact, 70% 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 32 days for cats under one year and 46 days for cats over one year. Consequently, the number of Care Days in 2015–the number of total days individual cats are cared for in one year in our shelters–is 1,945,633 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 88 sheltering organizations across New York minimally exceeds $19.4M annually.
Shelter administrators have long known that longer holding mandatory holding times these cats does not serve the best interests of the cats themselves, the organizations caring for them or the communities in which they reside. Shelter stays are very stressful places for cats and can have significant negative impacts on not only their health and well-being but also their chance at a successful live outcome. 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.
Increasing Penalties for Inadequate Shelter for Dogs Kept Outdoors
Waiting for new 2017 bill numbers
The winters of 2014 and 2015 were especially difficult and dangerous for dogs left outside. In Sprakers, NY (Montgomery County), a breeder kept his dogs outside in sub-zero temperatures during the winter of 2014 with only hay for bedding in plastic barrels. Local law enforcement doesn’t go after this type of animal abuse in part because it carries a low civil penalty–typically a $50 fine for the first offense.
This bill would strengthen the 2004 law that required adequate shelter for “outdoor” dogs (appropriate to the dog’s breed, physical condition and climate) by imposing stiffer financial penalties–$250 for the first offense, $500 for the second offense and $1,000 for the third offense.
Banning Insurance Discrimination Based on Dog Breed
Waiting for new 2017 bill numbers
Too many New Yorkers are faced with a Solomon-like dilemma–purchase insurance to cover your home or give up your dog(s) if they’re a breed determined to be “dangerous” by the insurance industry.
The NYS Animal Protection Federation’s members experience the brunt of this discrimination when loving owners are forced to give up their Pit Bulls, Rottweillers or other dogs deemed dangerous. Where do these dogs go? Usually, to the local shelter where additional financial burdens on placed on shelters. They care for these animals who are surrendered by their owners for not other reason than the insurance industry’s unwavering commitment to actuary tables rather than actual behavior.