Monday, February 15, 2010

Will Rescues in NY be Regulated?

New York Assembly Member Micah Z. Kellner has now introduced an amended version of A9449 still called Oreo's Law after the dog euthanized by the ASPCA last November. After months of care and evaluation, the dog was determined to be "unpredictably aggressive," biting even caregivers.

The senate version is S6412 sponsored by state Senator Thomas K. Duane. The bill, A9449/S6412, would amend the Agriculture and Markets Law, Section 374 by adding a new subdivision 9, that would require public shelters to release animals to any "nonprofit, as defined in section 501(c)(3) of the internal revenue code, animal rescue or adoption organization" that requests possession of them. The facility holding the animal would still collect the required spay/neuter deposit and could also assess a fee not to exceed the standard adoption fee....

...The bill, however, does not require the non-profit to meet any criteria to establish they are "responsible" or "reputable" organizations.

A 501(c)(3) status is simply an IRS designation meaning it is tax-exempt and donations are generally tax deductible. It has nothing to do with the quality of the operation and care provided.

This bill ties the hands of shelters to keep animals from known abusers or institutional hoarders that may not have been convicted of particular "statutes" or are not currently facing charges, or those rescues that cannot provide adequate shelter, food, water, veterinary care, and socialization or training, if required, and safe handling.

It would be easy, for example, for the hoarder or abuser to take the title of "manager" and not an officer or Board position and thus a public shelter would still be required to give animals to the organization. Imagine if the organization has employees who are felons or who have been convicted, cited or investigated for animal cruelty! Animal control would still be required to turn over animals to the organization on demand.

Also, it is not clear why the proposed amendment would be limited to "statutes" instead of all animal protection and animal fighting laws including ordinances and regulations.

It is notoriously difficult to obtain citations or charges, let alone prosecutions and convictions for animal cruelty, animal fighting and animal protection laws. It is also difficult for an animal control agency to find out about such charges or convictions that have occurred in other states or even other counties. In some cases animals may be seized and impounded because of cruelty or neglect but charges never pursued. In other cases charges may not be filed in return for transfer of ownership of the animals or permission to keep the animals on the property while they are given care and placed for adoption.

In the FLOCK case, for example, charges of animal cruelty were not filed for nearly a year after the animals were seized. Under Kellner's bill, public shelters would have been required to continue to release animals to that organization until charges were filed! There are a number of circumstances under which an organization may be a hoarder or operate a seriously substandard facility but not face charges or have a conviction...." More