A new relationship with animals, nature and each other.

The ASPCA’s Dangerous Bill

New York’s two competing pieces of legislation. One works, the other doesn’t.


After the uproar over “Oreo’s Law” two years ago, you’d think the ASPCA would want to get on the right side of a new piece of legislation that most humane groups support, and be able to move on.

Instead, the “A” is lobbying for a different piece of legislation that most humane groups consider at very least flawed, and at worst really bad news for shelter animals.

The Companion Animal Access and Rescue Act (CAARA) – NY A7312C – has been put together by state Rep. Micah Kellner, who co-sponsored the original “Oreo’s Law” that would prevent shelters from killing homeless pets when another charitable organization is offering to care for them. The bill failed, largely because of staunch opposition from the ASPCA, which had killed a pit bull named Oreo in spite of the fact that other reputable organizations had offered to care for her.

Rewritten as the new CAARA, and supported by many organizations including Best Friends Animal Society (which had declared itself “neutral” on Oreo’s Law), it should be a slam-dunk. CAARA would require New York shelters to provide better care, to make reasonable efforts to identify owners of strays, and reunite them with their families, and to work with qualified rescue organizations to make unclaimed shelter pets available to rescue groups rather than proactively killing them.

Now enter a competing bill, sponsored by state Rep. Amy Paulin and backed by the ASPCA, that would that would, instead, allow New York State shelters to kill animals immediately if staff determine that the animals are in “psychological pain.” Psychological pain by whose definition? Shelters would be allowed to kill animals with no holding period, leaving it to shelter directors at their own personal discretion. If you’re a shy dog or a scared cat, let alone a non-socialized feral cat, you can be diagnosed with “psychological pain” within the first five minutes.

(And have you ever even met a lost dog or cat who isn’t in “psychological pain” when brought in to the shelter?)

The Paulin/ASPCA bill would also allow animals to be killed to prevent unspecified and undiagnosed “deadly and contagious” diseases. It allows shelters that don’t want to work with rescues to set and change the requirements that the rescues need to meet. And, among other things, it does not protect animals who are brought in by people requesting that their pet be killed. (And “their” pet might well, in fact, be someone else’s pet.)

What you can do:

  • Post comments to the A’s Twitter page: @aspca