Today I attended a hearing of the New York City Council Health Committee as they pondered an amendment to the disastrous Local Law 59 of 2011, which I wrote about extensively back before it was passed – it was then known as Intro 655. In promoting it, many of the major animal welfare groups in NYC made a deal with the devil: they gave up on fighting the city to build desperately needed shelters in every borough, repealing the decade-old section of law that required it in exchange for the promise (but not the requirement) of more funding for existing city shelters. They passed mandatory spay/neuter for cats with outdoor access. And they passed a requirement saying that the city’s Department of Health – which has never shown any sign of caring about the welfare of New York City’s animals – would issue regulations overseeing TNR (trap-neuter-return) activities for feral cats in New York City.
And then in today’s hearing, many of the same groups appeared before the council in unanimous testimony asking that the section of the law giving the DOH regulatory power over TNR be repealed.
So given all of the influence that the major players – especially the ASPCA and the Mayor’s Alliance – had over the creation of this law, why are they now coming back to the table to ask that this section be repealed?
Jane Hoffman of the Mayor’s Alliance gave the unlikely explanation that “the conclusion we all reached after attempting to draft regulations that would actually work in NYC and after listening to concerns from the community was that we need education not regulation at this time.”
The reaction of the ASPCA was even more interesting – they sent THREE representatives, all of whom spoke back to back. They talked about this history of the ASPCA. They talked about their programs (including taking credit for a program that wasn’t theirs). They talked about their low cost spay neuter efforts in NYC. They talked about the importance of TNR. And not one of them addressed the subject at hand, which was this: should the NYC Department of Health regulate TNR activities in NYC, or not? They blithered on quite a bit about tangential subjects but not one of three took a position on the actual subject of the hearing.
There must have been quite a dust-up behind closed doors for this particular Coalition of the Killing (the DOH, The Mayor’s Alliance, and the ASPCA) to suddenly fracture… but what happened?
I’ve got some follow-up research to do this week, but let’s hear your theories.