ASPCA Urges Gov. Cuomo to Sign Legislation to Protect Animals in Crisis

N.Y. lawmakers pass two bills to protect pets in disasters and cruelty victims, community cats
June 25, 2015

NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today commended the members of the New York Legislature for passing two bills during the final days of the state's 2015 session to protect animals in peril. If enacted, these new laws will enable veterinarians to cross state lines to respond to pets in disasters or those seized from cruelty cases (A.6990-B/S.250-B) and help fund trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs to manage community cat populations (A.2778/S.1081). The two bills now head to the desk of Gov. Andrew Cuomo to be signed into law.

“The ASPCA is often called upon to assist law enforcement and local agencies during large-scale cruelty seizures and disasters, like Superstorm Sandy,” said Bill Ketzer, senior state director of ASPCA Government Relations for the Northeast region. “The ability to respond quickly and effectively under these circumstances is critical to saving lives, and we are grateful to Senator LaValle and Assemblymember Glick for their longtime support and strong leadership in passing this legislation to ensure all animals are better protected under the law.”

A.6990-B/S.250-B, sponsored by Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and Assemblymember Deborah Glick (D-Manhattan), will allow temporary licensing exemptions for out-of-state veterinarians and veterinary technicians to help state and local agencies better respond to animals in need during natural disasters and large-scale animal cruelty investigations. These unexpected events can often overwhelm local resources, requiring assistance from out-of-state veterinarians specializing in the fields of shelter medicine, forensic sciences, and emergency response protocol.

Additionally, A.2778/S.1081 received unprecedented support from municipal, legal and animal protection organizations and will offer huge benefits for vulnerable animals, local governments and public safety. Sponsored by Sen. Kathy Marchione (R-Halfmoon) and Assemblymember John McDonald (D-Cohoes), this legislation would authorize up to 20 percent of NYS Animal Population Control Program (APCP) dollars to fund viable TNR programs in Upstate New York and on Long Island to responsibly manage community cat populations and save taxpayer money. Created in 1995, the APCP supports viable, effective spay/neuter initiatives throughout the state and provides relief to overburdened animal shelters and local governments. However, TNR programs are not currently eligible for APCP funding, even as a growing number of towns and cities seek alternatives to the costly and ineffective practice of trapping, sheltering and euthanizing cats that cannot be socialized for adoption.

"New York lawmakers have taken a critical step to help reduce pet overpopulation throughout the state by voting to allow state Animal Population Control Program funds to be used in support of TNR programs," said Matt Bershadker, ASPCA President & CEO. "As the only humane method to stabilize and reduce community cat populations, TNR is an important tool for many communities. The ASPCA is grateful to bill sponsors Senator Marchione and Assemblymember McDonald for their tireless efforts to ensure the successful passage of this legislation, and we urge Governor Cuomo to sign this measure into law."

This life-saving and cost-saving endeavor recently received support from award-winning actress and animal lover, Edie Falco, who sent a letter to key legislative leaders to push for this important law change.

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