President’s Message:

Don´t Be Fooled by Beguiling Legislation

For those of us whose lives seem to revolve around animals, it is not unusual for most of our conversations to center on them, too. Recently, an animal activist shared a picture of a dog who had been transferred from a crowded urban shelter to a “rescue” group. When she and a highly respected dog trainer found her at the group´s facility, this poor creature was emaciated, not spayed, and tied up without shelter. The photo was taken after a month of veterinary care, food, and socialization, and she was still extremely thin. Her temperament had also been affected by her ordeal, and as much as everyone was hoping for a different outcome, the difficult decision was made to euthanize her due to very aggressive tendencies as well as an understandable fear of people.

Sadly, due to a highly publicized case in New York City, a measure is pending in the NYS Legislature which would make it mandatory for shelters to transfer animals scheduled for euthanasia to any rescue group that asks to remove the animal.

If S6412-A/A9449-A were to be enacted, many such animals would NOT find themselves in a true sanctuary with adequate resources to properly care for them, but instead with hoarders, breeders, fighters, in research facilities, or deteriorating slowly in cages.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated situation. Homeless animals are frequently given to the many private animal welfare groups that have been formed as a result of the “no kill” movement in animal sheltering. Unfortunately, all too frequently, such animals endure lingering, tragic lives as a result of misplaced trust and careless placement. There are, of course, many fine foster and animal care organizations that serve as adoption partners for shelters and animal control agencies, helping find appropriate homes for animals, and they are to be commended. When good shelters partner with reliable groups on a voluntary basis, all parties — especially the animals — win.

Sadly, due to a highly publicized case in New York City, a measure is pending in the NYS Legislature which would make it mandatory for shelters to transfer animals scheduled for euthanasia to any rescue group that asks to remove the animal.

If S6412-A/A9449-A were to be enacted, many such animals would not find themselves in a true sanctuary with adequate resources to properly care for them, but instead with hoarders, breeders, fighters, in research facilities, or deteriorating slowly in cages. That would not be a life, but a life sentence. New York State does not regulate or inspect the conditions in which shelter or foster care animals are maintained. So there is virtually no way short of a search warrant for law enforcement personnel to verify complaints about those conditions. Far too often, NYSHA has spearheaded efforts to free animals from horrific circumstances after they have been transferred to the custody of someone who cannot properly care for them. A forced relinquishment bill would deny private and municipal shelters to abandon their obligation to make appropriate decisions for animals entrusted to them.

Please notify your representatives that this beguiling measure would result, however unintentionally, in terrible consequences for countless animals. The real answer to reducing euthanasia — the purported goal of the sponsors of S6412-A/A9449-A — lies in reducing births, by supporting strong spay/neuter laws and promoting humane education. It is crucial to advise everyone we can about the dangers of S6412-A/A9449-A lest life for many animals it is intended to help becomes a cruel, lonely, and slow death.

As always, for the animals,
Laura-Ann Cammisa
President NYSHA

(Note: S6412-A/A9449-A did not make it out of committee to be voted on.)


New York State Humane Association Humane Review, Vol.XXIII, No.3, Winter 2009/2010.