ALBANY, N.Y. - Tuesday, June 4th marks the third annual NYS Animal Advocacy Day.
Senator Greg Ball and Assemblyman Jim Tedisco announced that the families who adopted Railroad Puppies Hudson and Pearl, the pit bull puppies left by a railroad track in Albany, will be featured at this year's event at the Legislative Office Building in Albany. NEWS CENTER's Steve Caporizzo, from Pet Connection, was once again the emcee at the event.
Hudson and Pearl, now happy, healthy and most of all, inspiring. It is cases of abuse like such as theirs that helped motivate a bi-partisan effort to crack down on animal abuse and neglect in New York.
Ball and Tedisco will recognize Richard and Rosemarie Nash who adopted Hudson, Susan Kittle who adopted Pearl, as well as Dr. Tom Bowersox, the veterinarian who created Hudson's artificial paw.
Tedisco stressed the importance of passing new legislation Tuesday, touching on the need for tougher penalties, psychiatric evaluations for those convicted, and cracking down on puppy mills.
They also made a special mention of "Ape," the Federal Bureau of Investigation Tactical K-9 killed in the line of duty while accompanying FBI agents who were attempting to arrest Kurt Myers, the suspected killer of four people in the Village of Herkimer in March.
In light of their efforts to combat cruelty to animals, Ball and Tedisco also pointed to "Phoenix," the Jack Russell Terrier set on fire by two teenagers in Buffalo last October. The 16-month-old terrier suffered severe burns, an ankle infection and blistered eyelids.
"Persons who commit crimes against animals often expand their carnage to their neighbors and the larger community," Ball said. "Most people can agree that the level of respect and kindness shown for animals is a fine predictor of how a person will treat their peers. Violent and cruel behavior towards animals, cannot and should not be tolerated."
Tedisco, who was the driving force behind Buster's Law, making aggravated cruelty to animals a felony punishable by up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine, has recently voiced support for strengthening that legislation. At the event, lawmakers and advocates will be calling for several bi-partisan measures to strengthen Buster's felony animal cruelty law to require that animal abusers be placed on a statewide registry of abusers, prohibit them from ever owning a companion animal again, and require them to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
"We have an obligation as a government to protect all members of our family, including those who have no voice," Tedisco said. "Animal Advocacy Day aims to educate the public and law enforcement about the value of our companion animals and the importance of enforcing existing laws."
Among other bills, Ball and Tedisco also call for legislation to ban the transportation of horses for slaughter in New York State.
This free, bipartisan event is open to the publicand will enable animal supporters to network, share information and lobby their legislators to raise awareness of the need to protect pets and people from abuse. There will be more than 30 exhibitors including rescues, shelters, and animal advocacy groups.
In recent years, there has been a statewide push to promote the prevention of animal cruelty beyond the efforts of outspoken advocates Ball and Tedisco. In May, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced the formation of a new Animal Protection Initiative aimed at shutting down criminal animal fighting rings, ensuring compliance with the state's Pet Lemon Law. The law charges those who abuse or neglect animals criminally, in those hopes of decreasing the existence of "puppy mills" to better protect the welfare of the animals being sold as well as the consumers.
"Fighting animal cruelty is both a consumer protection issue and a public safety issue," Schneiderman said. "There is a direct correlation between the dog fighting rings and other criminal enterprises, including gangs, gambling and illegal drugs, that put our communities at risk. At the same time, New Yorkers spend millions of dollars each year on the companionship a pet can provide."
New York Law gives pet consumers the right to ask questions about the breeders used by pet stores. If a consumer purchases an animal and a veterinarian later deems the animal unfit within 14 days of a sale, the consumer has the right to a refund, exchange, or reimbursement of veterinary costs up to the cost of the pet.
Pet owners also have the right to know if the animal was purchased by a large-scale breeder or "puppy mill." The OAG has committed to monitoring whether pet stores are being honest in accordance with the law and bring civil or criminal prosecutions where appropriate.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association's U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook, more than 50 percent of New York households include at least one pet. According to a study called the Report on Animal Welfare in the Capital Region released by the Humane Society of the Capital Region in February, only 24 percent of those pet owners acquired their dog or cat from adoption organizations or shelters.
The report, which analyzed animal welfare in an 11-county area including Albany, Schenectady and Troy, found that the Capital Region euthanizes animals at a greater rate per capita than other areas of the state, with more than 11,000 animals euthanized at the four major animal shelters in the Capital Region during 2009 to 2011. According to the American Humane Society, millions of tax dollars are spent each year to shelter and care for stray, abandoned and unwanted pets. When those pets are unable to find homes, that money goes to euthanizing them. For that reason, the American Humane Society is asking pet owners to assume responsibility for pet over-population by sterilizing their pets.
Information on adopting, volunteering and seeking out health and sterilization services will also be available at the event.
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