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March 30, 2009

New Yorkers Flock to Albany to Support Animal Protection Bills

The Humane Society of the United States

Citizens from across New York are in Albany to meet with lawmakers as part of New York Humane Lobby Day. The event is organized by The Humane Society of the United States and the New York State Humane Association.

Humane Lobby Day brings together animal welfare advocates from across the state to meet with their elected officials about legislation to protect animals. This year, the citizen lobbyists will focus on a slate of animal initiatives, including legislation to end the shooting of exotic mammals held captive in fenced enclosures, a bill to strengthen penalties against animal fighting, and legislation to crack down on cruel puppy mills.

"Humane Lobby Day is an opportunity for lawmakers to hear directly from their constituents on a number of the issues that matter most to them," said Patrick Kwan, New York state director for The HSUS. "My hope is that our elected officials will make this the year that New York becomes a more humane state by passing laws to end some of the worst cruelties inflicted upon animals."

The 2009 legislation includes:

  • A.B. 6287: Dogfighting Spectator Penalties Dogfighting is illegal in every state, but New York has one of the weakest anti-dogfighting laws in the entire nation. While it's a felony to fight dogs in New York, possessing animals for the purpose of fighting is only a misdemeanor, and attending an animal fight is only a violation on the first offense and a misdemeanor on the second. Lower spectator and possession penalties at a dogfight create major loopholes that make it more difficult for law enforcement officials to effectively prosecute animal fighters and these anemic provisions attract criminals from other states to engage in illegal activities in New York.
  • A.B. 6788/S.B. 3223: Ban Canned Shoots This bill would close a loophole in state law that allows private trophy hunting facilities to host canned shoots where shooters pay to kill exotic animals trapped within fenced enclosures.  Most hunters oppose these phony hunts because they violate the ethic of sportsmanship and fair chase. Animals on canned shoots often come from private breeders, animal dealers, and even roadside zoos and circuses. Frequently, the animals have been hand-raised and bottle-fed, so they have lost their fear of people. 
  • S. 751 and A. 5512: Downed Farm Animals This bill requires the humane euthanasia of a farm animal too ill or injured to stand or walk under their own power.
  • A. 7285: Puppy Mills  This bill cracks down on the worst abuses at large-scale puppy mills by limiting the number of unsterilized animals a person can maintain to 50 animals. Puppy mills are large scale commercial factories that mass-produce puppies for sale. Puppy mills commonly house animals in overcrowded, filthy and inhumane conditions with inadequate shelter and care. The bill will not impact responsible breeders, animal shelters, research facilities, pet stores, veterinarians, groomers or boarding facilities.

The HSUS will also present awards to Sen. Frank Padavan and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal in recognition for their efforts in 2008. The presentation is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. in the Third Floor Terrace, NYS Legislative Office Building.

Together, Sen. Padavan and Assemblywoman Rosenthal sponsored legislation signed by Gov. Patterson in July that requires the use of alternatives to animal models in product testing. They also co-sponsored legislation to restrict new live bird markets in New York State. Gov. Patterson signed that bill, which protects public health and improves animal welfare, in August. Assemblywoman Rosenthal and Sen. Padavan also sponsored a bill that became law which requires the labeling of fur products as either real or faux.

Sen. Padavan also sponsored legislation addressing canned shoots (S.B. 784) and horse slaughter (S.B. 1462).

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.

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