LETTERS: Magee fights to protect shelter animals, avoid unfunded mandates

To the editor:

I care deeply about animals. As the proud owner of my pet, Simon, a shelter-adopted cat, I know how important it is to protect and rescue every animal we can. Just two years ago, I voted to pass a law that specifically allows shelters to legally partner with rescues, giving them a meaningful opportunity to choose which rescue organization to work with before euthanizing animals in their care, helping prevent animal abuse and neglect. (Ch. 419 of 2010).

I am writing to you regarding the Companion Animal Access and Rescue Act (CAARA) legislation which is currently in the state Assembly’s Agriculture Committee. This bill would require the release of shelter animals to any rescue group upon their request.

While this bill has good intentions, there are flaws that could do more harm than good to our animals and severely burden property taxpayers. The bill is even opposed by the New York State Humane Association.

One of the many concerns I have about CAARA is that the act would require shelters to turn animals over to rescue organizations on demand, removing any sort of the meaningful discretion shelters have in choosing which rescue organizations to partner with.

Currently, all animal shelters are regulated by the state to ensure the humane treatment of all animals.

Rescue organizations are not state-regulated, meaning that there is no oversight over any of them. In fact, this legislation specifically states that rescues can refuse to be inspected by shelters.

That’s simply wrong. Because rescue organizations are not defined, anyone can declare themselves a rescue organization simply by filing for not-for-profit status. Too often we read horrific stories in the paper about rescues that get in over their heads.

An example close to home is the case of a woman from Salina who faced more than 90 charges for hoarding over 30 dogs and puppies. Without adequate regulations, this is what could happen to the sheltered animals we are trying to save.

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