There are tens of thousands animals in New York State shelters waiting to be adopted and most are healthy, well-behaved, and just in need of a home. Unfortunately, shelters oftentimes don’t have the room or resources to care for these or other animals. Even worse, current New York law does not protect or grant access to the qualified rescue groups that are working to save these loving and loyal animals.
This is why I have introduced the Companion Animal Access and Rescue Act or CAARA. CAARA sets minimum standards that allow rescue groups to recover animals from a shelter, a society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, humane society or pound that are scheduled to be destroyed.
CAARA goes beyond just giving rescue groups mere access. For the first time, it sets qualifications and guidelines for both shelters and rescue groups. Outlining the responsibilities of those who work directly with the animals will help ensure that the animals receive the proper care. These provisions ensure that animals are given fresh food and water on a daily basis, exercise and socialization with other animals, clean living environments, and prompt veterinary care. Additionally, both paper and digital records are required in order to help facilitate finding these animals a home.
Also for the first time, CAARA extends whistleblower protections to rescue groups. In many cases, rescue groups have been denied access to shelters for speaking out against bad practices, whether it be for abuse or mismanagement. Every time a group is turned away, it adds to the undue burden on the taxpayer who has to foot the bill for every animal kept or killed in a shelter.
Allowing qualified groups to have access is not only the compassionate thing to do, but it saves taxpayers money at a time when they need it the most.
I am proud to say that CAARA has earned the support of many of the leading animal welfare groups like Best Friends Animal Society, Alley Cat Allies, the No-Kill Advocacy Center, and the League of Humane Voters of New York.
Having been a foster parent for an animal rescue group, I am heartbroken that so many animals are being senselessly killed. When humane organizations volunteer their expertise in difficult cases, shelters should work with them to the fullest extent possible. This legislation will give every animal another chance at life.
You can read my full press release below: