New York, please help guarantee shelter access now!

Group of tan puppiesYour Action Needed Now: Companion Animal Access and Rescue Act legislation  in New York state. 

New York assemblyman Micah Kellner and Senator Joseph Robach have introduced the Companion Animal Access and Rescue Act (CAARA), which will guarantee shelter access to qualified rescue groups and empower them to claim animals who are scheduled to be destroyed at shelters.

At the present time, New York law does not recognize or distinguish qualified animal rescue organizations as a unique resource capable of saving lives as well as taxpayer money. Euthanizing shelter animals is not only unconscionable, it costs money and is the ultimate form of animal cruelty. Adopting shelter pets to the public or placing them with rescue organizations generates revenue and reduces costs. Sadly, current law does not allow qualified rescue organizations to step in and provide these animals with another chance at life. CAARA will change that.

CAARA is based on the Hayden Law, which was passed in California in 1998, and a similar Delaware law that passed in 2010. The intent of the measure is to find homes for shelter pets, rather than euthanize them. Both bills passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.

In recent weeks, Best Friends Animal Society along with other animalTabby cat welfare organizations, including Alley Cat Allies and the No Kill Advocacy Center, has been working closely with New York state assemblyman Micah Kellner to help craft this bill. We believe CAARA is important and effective lifesaving legislation that reflects the values and expectations of the animal-loving public.

In addition to helping to save more animals, the bill will set higher standards of care provided to homeless pets in shelters, including fresh food and water on a daily basis, exercise, socialization, clean living spaces and adequate veterinary care. It also will ensure that animal welfare organizations empowered by this bill will be qualified to meet the needs of the animals that they rescue.

It may be surprising to many that New York state does not have such basic provisions in place already, but it doesn’t. The legal standards of care for shelter animals in the Empire State are marginal at best, and while many shelters do work with the rescue community, many do not. Some shelter directors seem to be indifferent to the profound responsibility they have for the lives in their care.

Politics is not a spectator sport, so please act now. If you are a resident of New York, send a message to the Senate and General Assembly Agriculture Committees, in addition to your own state senator and representative.

Thank you for taking action for the animals and helping to save our homeless dogs and cats. Working together we can create a time of No More Homeless Pets in New York!

Francis Battista