2007 Empire State Animal Protection Forum a Great Success
“Very inspiring and informative! Great workshops! Very proactive!” People really enjoyed all aspects of the fifth annual Forum held at the Best Western Inn and Conference in Poughkeepsie on November 2 and 3. The event was planned by representatives from key state and national organizations: NYSHA, the ASPCA, Chenango County SPCA, Humane Society at Lollypop Farm, The Humane Society of the United States, and the NYS Animal Control Association.
The Forum included a great blend of workshops, awards, prizes, vendors, and networking. All who attended said they learned a lot, made good contacts, and had a great time doing it.
Leading off the Forum on Friday afternoon, a panel of experts discussed animal cruelty and what can be done to address it by knowing what to look for and how to report it. Following the Q and A session, the attendees were invited to assemble for an informal evening networking session.
Beginning Saturday morning, attendees went to workshops that covered a variety of subjects of interest to individuals concerned about the well-being of animals. While many topics were of particular interest to animal shelter staffs, others addressed ways to improve the lives of animals using societal channels for change, such as humane education in schools, lobbying for stronger laws, and combating puppy mills.The speakers, who were selected because of their expertise in various fields, were not only dynamic presenters, but also responsive listeners who stayed after the sessions ended to address unique concerns of attendees.
While the workshops focused on education and action, the awards ceremony following the luncheon paid tribute to those who had performed extraordinary work on behalf of animals. Dora Schomberg, lobbyist for The HSUS, was honored for her decades of skilled work, extraordinary dedication, and unwavering perseverance that have resulted in protection for the lives of millions of animals through effective legislation.
Also honored were three state legislators who had worked to pass important animal legislation. Senator Frank Padavan served the cause of animal welfare on many occasions during his long career in the NYS Senate, resulting in the protection of countless animals. His most recent efforts resulted in a ban on the killing or stunning of fur-bearing animals by electrocution and mandating that correct identifying labels are put on clothing trimmed with fur or faux fur. Assemblywoman Deborah J. Glick introduced companion legislation in the Assembly to stop electrocution of fur-bearing animals, and Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal introduced companion legislation in the Assembly to require correct labeling of fur trimmed items. As a result of the passage of these two bills, millions of wild animals are being spared untold and unnecessary suffering, and shoppers can now reject clothing items that incorporate real fur.
“I remember twenty-five years ago when I went to court with an animal cruelty case, I was laughed at. No one took animal crimes seriously. But that no longer happens. People now want animal cruelty taken seriously, they want something done, and that change has come about because of all of you in this room and the work you have done over the years. You have made that difference. You should be very proud of yourselves.” Alfred Chapleau, Schenectady Co. Chief Assistant District Attorney
Laws have to be enforced to be effective. And those who arrest and prosecute those who break them also received awards.Rensselaer County District Attorney Patricia DeAngelis was honored for her vigorous work in prosecuting animal abusers and for her dedication to establishing an animal cruelty task force for her county. Alfred Chapleau, Schenectady County Chief Assistant District Attorney, was recognized for his tireless work in prosecuting animalabusers and for assisting NYSHA by teaching at our animal cruelty workshops across the state. NYS Police Investigator Omar Snow, stationed at the New Scotland Barracks, received tribute for his outstanding work on a very difficult case which resulted in the arrest and conviction of a notorious hoarder who is now serving a jail sentence.
Not forgotten were those who work hands-on with animals, compassionately soldiering on in assisting many animals or perhaps standing bravely to save the life of only one. Gail Mihocko of Project Cat in Accord was honored for her work with homeless cats — providing shelter, spaying and neutering, finding homes or humanely providing final relief for those who were sick and injured, sparing them an end suffering and alone. Carol Storch of Ithaca received an award for the courage she demonstrated when she risked her own safety to rescue a large turtle from a violent young man who was about to do the animal great harm.
After receiving their awards, the recipients each took a few moments to thank NYSHA and to share some thoughts and experiences. A most poignant comment was made by ADA Alfred Chapleau when he looked out at the audience and said, “I remember twenty-five years ago when I went to court with an animal cruelty case, I was laughed at. No one took animal crimes seriously. But that no longer happens. People now want animal cruelty taken seriously, they want something done, and that change has come about because of all of you in this room and the work you have done over the years. You have made that difference. You should be very proud of yourselves.” His remarks and those of the other award recipients both moved the audience and inspired them to continue the fight to help animals.
Energized by this year’s success, the organizing committee is already planning the 2008 Forum for the Rochester area. Watch this website for details. Please plan to join us for this wonderful event.
New York State Humane Association Humane Review, Vol.XXI, No.3, Winter 2007-2008.