Because it was inevitable, because YOU made it inevitable, Amy Paulin has amended the Quick Kill Bill to remove the section that refers to killing animals due to “psychological pain”. Finally, after telling her fellow legislators she’d remove it if they passed it through the agricultural committee, and then did not. After claiming to the press that it would be removed, and then did not. After claiming to the press that it already had been removed… and then waiting a few more days, just for good measure. We’re still waiting for her to “reach out to rescue groups”, as she’s been promising to for months. Don’t hold your breath.
Amy Paulin’s unethical behavior has cost her the support of 11 of her co-sponsors so far and of the sponsor of the companion Senate legislation. Presumably, now that she’s changed her “Quick Kill” language, she thinks that she can re-build her support and get this legislation passed, the legislation designed very specifically to block actual, meaningful shelter reform in New York State. They’re really interested in New York City Animal Care and Control specifically, but they’re perfectly happy to see the rest of the state’s animals affected as well.
While Amy Paulin has removed the Quick Kill language from the bill, enormously destructive passages remain. The new revisions leave us with the Quiet Kill Bill. This is legislation masquerading as a shelter reform act where shelters give up a little to get a lot.
When you look at the newly amended bill (and I encourage everyone to read it), one of the first things that jumps out at you is the parts of the law relating to interfacing with rescues. How the list of rescues is to be constructed, who can be on it, all that sort of thing – and it looks not bad at first glance, it’s pretty impressive. But then there’s one of those weasel words again…
In the absence of such findings or certification, a duly incorporated humane society, a duly incorporated society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, ANIMAL SHELTER, or any pound maintained by or under contract or agreement with any county, city, town or village may after five days make available for adoption, PLACE WITH AN ORGANIZATION ON A LIST OF ORGANIZATIONS THAT IS MAINTAINED PURSUANT TO SUBDIVISION THREE OF THIS SECTION or have humanely destroyed SUBJECT TO AND in accordance
That word is may. The shelter does not HAVE to release animals to rescue. They do not HAVE to adopt out to the public. Once the five day stray hold is up, they can adopt, contact rescues, or kill – and owner surrenders don’t even get that small protection, the shelter is left to do with them as they please, including killing them on intake. Their option. This isn’t what I want to see in a shelter reform bill; I do not wish to see shelters given the ability to completely shut out the public and rescue if they so choose and continue killing, quietly. All the rest of the requirements for rescues to be on the list are of little use if the shelter “may” work with them if they wish, but don’t have to.
The “memo” section, which lays out the legislative goals of the bill, is even more crystal clear:
Section four amends section 374 of the agriculture and markets law. Subdivision 2 is amended to add “placement with an organization on a list of approved organizations” as an option for a humane society, animal shelter or pound to consider in the case of any animal of which possession is taken.
Now, if the shelter WISHES to make an animal available for rescue, they still have exclusive control over who is on the list. They inspect them and they make the choices – and although they have to inform organizations who do not make the list why not, the shelter has the final word. This is a very dangerous law to make, putting the fox in charge of the henhouse. Further, they may bar any rescue from the list for “behavior that disrupts or interferes with the impounding organization’s lawful operations”. That’s a massively broad clause that is ripe for abuse – speak out against the shelter and have your rescue access pulled.
Other weaknesses abound. Shelters are now only required to consider for their list rescues in their county and adjoining counties for no particular reason other than to limit access. There is simply no reason for this clause in the interest of lifesaving.
The internet revolution seems to have left Ms. Paulin behind, which should not be a surprise to anyone who has been to her Facebook page. Lost animals are required to be listed on the internet, with a photograph, “if practicable”. Oh, and the notice does not have to be posted AT ALL on the internet “if use of the internet is impracticable”. Ms Paulin, it’s 2012. A $50 cell phone has a perfectly serviceable camera on it and a Facebook account is free. There’s just no excuse not to require the posting of lost animals on the net in this day and age.
This bill remains a very serious threat to the welfare of animals in New York State, and we must not stop contacting the sponsors – and letting them know what this bill REALLY does. There is a continuously updated list of current sponsors of the bill here with phone numbers and an email link to email all of them. Please don’t stop contacting the legislators supporting this bill and let them know what it REALLY stands for – quietly continuing business as usual while blocking meaningful refrom legislation. ALWAYS be polite when contacting legislators – they are not the enemy and many believe they are doing the right thing! They simply need an education (and mentioning the superior bill, Micah Kellner’s CAARA, wouldn’t hurt either).
Finally, there is one more important thing for New Yorkers (and please, only New Yorkers!) to do – the next step for this bill will be to go to the Codes Committee, where Chairman Joseph Lentol has previously stated that he would stop the bill in its previous form. One of his greatest issues was whistleblower protection – that shelters could eject any rescue that spoke out against them. That remains in the bill along with the “Quiet Kill” provisions that fake reform while leaving shelters to operate as usual. Chairman Lentol has been a hero to us and we need to let him know that we still need and want his help to stop this bill and focus on REAL reform for New York’s shelter animals – so please contact his office and ask for his help once again by stopping the amended bill in the codes committee. We are big fans of Assemblyman Joe and know he will come through for us once again!