In September 2014, a bill was introduced in the New York City Council to require full-service animal shelters be built in Queens and the Bronx, the two boroughs that don’t have them. This morning the bill, Intro 485, had its first Council hearing before the nine-member Committee on Health, and the ASPCA was there to provide support.
Our President, Matt Bershadker, testified on behalf of the bill and urged the City Council to pass and properly fund Intro 485 on a continuing basis, as well as to pick locations for the new shelters that are conveniently accessible to residents.
Queens and the Bronx (combined population: approximately 3.6 million) currently have only animal “receiving centers”—as a result, stray or surrendered animals is these boroughs must be transported to shelters in other boroughs. The Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island shelters already operate at maximum capacity and are out of reach for many residents of Queens and the Bronx who may be searching for beloved lost pets or interested in adopting.
“The current set-up is not just inefficient, but absolutely life-threatening to homeless dogs and cats,” said Bershadker. “The key to saving lives is not just housing these animals, but more importantly, re-homing them. Yet the receiving centers in these boroughs don’t serve that cause. The ASPCA stands ready to work with Animal Care and Control and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to support the city during this substantial, but necessary change.”
Intro 485 has the support of nearly every City Council member representing Queens and the Bronx; 33 of the Council’s 51 members have cosponsored the bill. Please stay tuned to aspca.org for more news on this effort as it develops.
Intro 485's sponsor Council Member Paul Vallone, ASPCA President Matt Bershadker, and Council Member Corey Johnson appeared at a press conference for the bill in lower Manhattan this morning.
We’re all counting on members of Congress to stand up for our nation’s animals—so to remind them of the difference animals make in our lives, we arranged for them to spend a little quality time with some adorable animals yesterday at Paws for Love, a Capitol Hill Valentine’s Day event organized by the ASPCA and hosted by the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus (CAPC).
During Paws for Love, legislators and staff got to canoodle with adoptable animals from D.C.-area shelters and rescues. The shelters and rescues got to highlight their important work, and, best of all, at least six deserving animals found their forever homes!
Paws for Love was also the first CAPC event of the 114th Congress. Formed in 2009, the CAPC employs non-partisan forums and briefings to highlight important issues affecting animals. The caucus also tracks the progress of relevant legislation, provides members of Congress with credible information, and strives to build broad coalitions in support of common-sense, humane animal welfare laws and policies.
The caucus has two new Co-Chairs this year: Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA), both of whom spoke at the event. Reps. Blumenauer and Fitzpatrick have been leading champions of humane issues and demonstrated career-long commitment to advancing animal welfare policies in Congress. The two previously collaborated to introduce legislation that would protect public health and safety by prohibiting interstate commerce in primates for the pet trade, and have supported many other animal welfare legislative efforts including bills to crack down on animal fighting, protect farm animals, and save our nation’s horses from the cruelty of slaughter. The two Co-Chairs will work with new and returning CAPC members to advance animal protection legislation in the 114th Congress.
Check out the photos below to see why Paws for Love is, as many attendees claimed, their “favorite workday ever.”
Representative Earl Blumenauer, CAPC Co-Chair
Representative Leonard Lance meets a dog from Washington Humane Society
Representative Mike Fitzpatrick, CAPC Co-Chair
Representative Walter Jones & ASPCA SVP of Government Relations Nancy Perry
Stacie Gregg and son Declan (ASPCA 2012 Kid of the Year) with Representative Frank Guinta
Erica Striebel from Representative Ander Crenshaw’s office adopted a pup from Last Chance Rescue. His name is Finnegan.
February 5, 2015: The ASPCA commends New Jersey legislators and Governor Chris Christie for enacting a measure to crack down on New Jersey pet stores that source puppies from inhumane puppy mills. The new law, which goes into effect June 1, requires state pet stores to disclose the origins of the dogs they sell. It also prohibits pet stores from sourcing animals from breeders who fail to meet even the most basic care standards prescribed by federal and state law. If you live in the Garden State, please take a second to send Governor Christie a note of thanks.
“The ASPCA thanks New Jersey lawmakers and Gov. Christie for enacting this law and taking a positive first step towards more humane sourcing of puppies by New Jersey pet stores, which will put pressure on the commercial breeding industry nationwide to end puppy mill cruelty and stop placing profit over the well-being of the dogs in these facilities,” said Debora Bresch, Esq., Senior Director of ASPCA Government Relations for the Mid-Atlantic region and a New Jersey resident. “This new law is critical to our continued effort to end the inhumane treatment of dogs in commercial breeding facilities that exploit both the dogs and consumers in pursuit of profit.”
This morning ASPCA President Matt Bershadker stood on Capitol Hill beside Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon as he introduced new legislation to end government-funded and -perpetrated cruelty to animals used in agricultural research. The Animal Welfare in Agricultural Research Endeavors (AWARE) Act, H.R. 746/S. 388, comes in response to the gut-wrenching animal suffering revealed by The New York Times at USDA’s Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) in Nebraska—a tax-payer funded facility that performs research to make meat production more profitable.
The AWARE Act would require animal agricultural research at federal facilities to meet the minimal standards for humane handling, care, and treatment in the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The bill would prohibit the type of disregard for animal suffering that is clearly ingrained at the USMARC.
To date, the USDA has provided no explanation nor expressed any remorse for its treatment of the thousands of animals that have been starved, crushed, tortured or left to die painful deaths at the hands of its researchers. While it’s disappointing that the agency with primary enforcement authority for our federal animal welfare statutes—including the Animal Welfare Act, which H.R. 746/S. 388 would amend—behaves so atrociously toward the animals in its own care, we are grateful to have champions like House cosponsors Rep. Blumenauer and Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick working to right these wrongs. We are also grateful to Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey for introducing the Senate version of the bill and to Wayne Pacelle of The Humane Society of the U.S. for helping us lead the charge.
The new year is looking good for horse welfare on Capitol Hill! President Obama’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16), released yesterday, reaffirms the President’s support for a ban on the use of tax dollars for horse slaughter. If accepted by Congress, the budget proposal will renew language prohibiting the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from spending any tax dollars on inspections at U.S. horse slaughter plants and prevent horse slaughter plants from opening in the U.S. for another fiscal year.
“We appreciate the White House’s continued commitment to keeping the grisly business of horse slaughter out of the U.S.,” says Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations. “The President’s actions reflect the will of the 80 percent of Americans who oppose horse slaughter for human consumption and large, bipartisan votes in past Congresses have underscored this position. Congress should move swiftly to heed the American people’s wishes and renew this prohibition for the sake of protecting horses from cruelty and consumers from this gross threat to human health.”
This funding limitation mirrors the language included in the President’s previous budget proposal and is in line with Congress’s demonstrated opposition to horse slaughter. Congress included this same prohibition on tax dollars for horse slaughter in its FY14 and FY15 spending packages, both after strong House and Senate committee votes on the issue.
In addition to these achievements on Capitol Hill, great strides have been made on this issue internationally. As of January 15, the European Union bans the import of horse meat from Mexico for human consumption. This decision was based on evidence of the terrible treatment of these horses—many of whom originate in the U.S.—and the risk their meat poses to human health (due to the vast array of dangerous drugs routinely given to American horses). We must build on the momentum of these recent victories to ensure that the President’s recommendations are adopted by Congress for the next fiscal year!
What You Can Do Let’s make sure the message comes through loud and clear that protecting our horses must continue to be a priority in this new Congress. Sign up for the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade today to stay current on the latest animal welfare developments, and join us in being a voice for horses on Capitol Hill!