NOW is the time to make your voice heard on the Companion Animal Access and Rescue Act http://www.nathanwinograd.com/?p=5948 (Senate Bill S05363A and Assembly Bill A07312). The lives of tens of thousands of animals hang in the balance as the NYS Legislature Assembly & Senate Agriculture Committees consider badly needed shelter reform legislation. The centerpiece of the legislation is a rescue access provision that would make killing illegal if qualified rescue groups are willing to save an animal's life. But it does so much more.
End "convenience" killing when there are empty cages and when animals can share kennels or be sent to foster care;
Require pounds to post strays, including photographs and descriptions, on the Internet so their families can search for them online;
Require transparency in operations by requiring shelters to make their statistics public;
Require pounds to scan for microchips, maintain lost/found lists, and match lost with found animals in the shelter;
Require fresh food and water, environmental enrichment, clean living environments, as well as prompt and necessary veterinary care; and,
Allow shelters to transfer stray animals to rescue groups during the holding period to free up cage space or get vulnerable animals out as soon as possible, subject to the same rights of redemption for the animal's family.
The Committees may take up the bill as early as next week. We need letters of support now. There are three ways to contact them:
CAARA saves the lives of animals A 2010 statewide survey of rescue groups in New York State http://www.nokilladvocacycenter.org/documents/NYSrescueaccesssurvey.pdf found that 71% of non-profit animal welfare groups have had at least one NYS shelter refuse to work collaboratively and then turned around and kill the very animals they were willing to save.
CAARA saves taxpayers money CAARA is modeled after a similar law which has been in effect in California since 1998. An analysis of that law found that sending animals to non-profit animal rescue organizations saved the City and County of San Francisco $486,480 in publicly funded animal control costs <http://www.nathanwinograd.com/linked/SFSPCAfiling.1999.PDF>.
CAARA provides whistleblower protections for rescuers A 2010 statewide survey of rescue groups in New York State <http://www.nokilladvocacycenter.org/documents/NYSrescueaccesssurvey.pdf found that 43% of groups have been the subject of retaliation by shelters after they expressed concerns about inhumane conditions which they have witnessed in New York State shelters.
CAARA levels the playing field All non-profit organizations have identical rights and responsibilities before the law. CAARA seeks to protect those rights by leveling the playing field between the large non-profits which have all the power and the small non-profits who are prevented from fulfilling their lifesaving mission when these larger organizations refuse to collaborate with them in order to save more lives.
CAARA improves the emotional well-being of shelter staff Studies show that staff members responsible for killing animals in shelters are vulnerable to emotional trauma, exhaustion, and burnout. CAARA would spare staff from killing animals, when those animals have readily available lifesaving options.
CAARA protects public health and safety CAARA specifically excludes dangerous and aggressive dogs, animals who have rabies, animals with virulent diseases such as parvovirus and panleukopenia, and animals who are irremediably suffering.
CAARA protects animals from being placed in harmful situations CAARA specifically excludes organizations with a volunteer, staff member, director, and/or officer with a conviction for animal neglect, cruelty, and/or dog fighting, and suspends the organization while such charges are pending. It also allows shelters to inspect the group when reasonable suspicion exists to believe an animal would be put in harm's way.
CAARA reduces burdens on shelters CAARA reduces the number of animals they kill. It reduces costs for killing. It brings in revenue, through adoption fees. And it transfers costs from taxpayers to private organizations, funded through philanthropic dollars.