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.
2020 Humane Agenda
Companion Animal Capital Fund
- Include the $5 million capital appropriation in the Governor’s proposed Executive Budget
- Include the language changes proposed and agreed to last year but not included in final capital bill
Create a Companion Animal Welfare Unit at NYS Department of Ag & Markets
- The role of the Division of Animal Industry (DAI) has expanded over the course of the last 15-20 years to increasingly regulate companion animals, both in commerce and in animal shelters. This happened as legislative initiatives reflect the public’s interest in animal welfare, boutique breeds and the vast strides not-for-profits have made in saving homeless animal lives.
- Almost every legislative session creates a new set of responsibilities for the State Veterinarian and his small team, while years of zero-growth budgets all but ensure the division’s struggle to do more with less.
- Create the Companion Animal Welfare Unit within the DAI dedicated to companion animal welfare along with financial resources ($2.5 million) included in the Governor proposed Executive Budget to establish and maintain it.
- Funding would allow for additional staff including veterinarians, inspectors and support staff.
- This step would be incredibly well received by the animal welfare community and the general public alike. With that dedicated team in place, the rest of the staff could commit more time and energy promoting the health and safety of animals in production agriculture.
Eliminate mandatory appearance tickets for felony animal cruelty and felony animal fighting crimes
- In order to seriously address felony animal cruelty (AGM Section 353-a) and felony animal fighting crimes (AGM Section 351), the Pre-Trial Justice Reform Act passed last year needs to be amended to exempt these crimes.
- Acts of animal cruelty can not only result in an animal’s death or serious injury, but can also be intended to cause extreme physical pain or carried out in an especially depraved or sadistic manner. Given that such crimes can expose other forms of family violence and be one of the most visible parts of an entire history of aggressive or antisocial behavior, it is also important to retain the option of immediately charging and arraigning a suspect in these cases as well.
- In addition, animal fighting is very often associated with other forms of criminal activity, including illegal gambling, and drug and weapons trafficking. Probable cause is often established by way of the animal fighting statute. Therefore, an investigation into these offenses and the ability to immediately charge and arraign suspects can play a crucial role in revealing the true depth of the criminal enterprise.
Advance Pro-Active Legislation to Enhance the Lives of Companion Animals
- Comprehensive Shelter Standards: 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.
- Stop the Puppy Mill Pipeline: 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 2018, pet owners across the globe spent over $72.5 billion on their animals. It is estimated that only 2% of those sales are for puppies, kittens and rabbits from mills. It is time for New York to say no to these mills which are actual 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.
- Ban Insurance Discrimination in Pet Ownership: 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.
- 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.
- Veterinary Reporting of Suspected Cruelty: One way to continue to fight animal cruelty is to require veterinarians to report suspected cruelty to police or authorized SPCA humane officers.
- Lowering the sales threshold for home-based breeders from 25 to 15: While the Pre-Emption Bill passed at the end of the 2013 session was a good start, it is clear that without pro-active measure 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. [A351 (Paulin)/S3830 (Metzger)]