It has been a very “up and down” couple of days and for many that read the normal Pets Alive twitter and Facebook, we haven’t been up to our usual light hearted tweets and posts.
I learned a long time ago that the thing that keep all of you coming back, and following us, and supporting us, is to feel good about what we do and why, and how, and to show you all that goodness. It makes us feel good too.
That isn’t to say there aren’t horrible things in rescue. There ARE. We see it every day, of course. But we don’t feel you need to be pelted with it. I’d rather show you the picture of that dog AFTER we loved him back into health, or that kitten after we cleaned her up and she is on her way to her forever home.
But sometimes bad things are going on that we need you to step up and fix because without you we are truly powerless. I can write a letter or call someone on the phone and that can mean nothing at all. But when we ask all of YOU to, and you DO, it is so tremendously powerful that it brings the opposition to it’s knees. Collectively we are very powerful and collectively we can implement change. Good change. Positive change.
Recently I have put out blogs about how happy I was in regards to the ASPCA doing some really good things. I wanted to type “for a change” here and be bitter about them but the fact is that the ASPCA does have many good programs and they do have good things that go on within their organization. I guess the disconnect for me though, and for so many of you, is why they would ever fight anything that has the power to be so good for animals. Not only fight it, but lobby against it, use their might and power to betray it and stop it. I sit here and wonder why they would do that.
In my years of working with animals I can consistently go back to things I have learned from Michael Mountain. He has always given me much to think about, contemplate and learn, in every single conversation or exchange I have ever had with him. And he would ask “why?”. “What are the REASONS behind the way they are acting. What is the motivation?” So I have given that a great deal of thought. Are the leaders of the ASPCA evil people? Do they hate animals? Do they want to keep all the power and decision making about animals to themselves and be the mandators and arbitrators of all things animal? Are they afraid of something? If so, what? Are they just ignorant? Are the people doing these things just dumb or uninformed?
I look at all those questions and I am just left baffled. They fought against Oreo’s Law. They stopped it dead in it’s tracks. Why? It was said because they feared “hoarders” getting animals or that there were no reviews done on the pulling rescues and “any rescue” could get an animal then, no matter what. At least that is what I remember their reasoning to be, but the fact is that none of that is true. In Oreo’s Law and in CAARA there are many safeguards in place for this and I would challenge you to think about the odds. OK, let’s say for an instance that some irreputable places get animals due to CAARA’s law. So let’s even say it is a HUGE number. Let’s guesstimate 10% of all animals saved by rescues from death at shelters go to not great places (and come on, ten percent would be absurd don’t you think?) Since the ASPCA defeated Oreo’s law almost 40,000 lives would have been saved. So let’s look at those numbers. 40,000. If we use that high 10% number then 4,000 went to places that weren’t that great. That leaves 36,000 animals that went to amazing and wonderful places and into homes. Aren’t these odds good? Aren’t these numbers amazing? Because once we have CAARA in place ….well then, now we can start saying “Hey, 4,000 animals did NOT go to good places last year and while a not so great place may, or may not, be better than dead, we need to now turn our attention on those places and get this fixed. Shut them down. Stop then from being able to run a rescue.” Then since we have CAARA, we can focus all our energies on THAT change and THAT fix.
Don’t you think that would be a better way to handle the ASPCA’s fears? After all – isn’t that their job? To be the “voice” of the animals? To protect the animals? To stop cruelty to animals? They have hundreds of millions dollars every year to do it. So can’t they funnel maybe a million bucks a year into making that a huge part of their programs in NYS so that we can then save 100% of the animals thanks to CAARA?
But no, they don’t see it this way and I’m perplexed as to why. Doesn’t this sound reasonable to you? Doesn’t this make sense? DOESN’T IT? So why if you, and I, and the huge bulk of the animal community, including Michael Mountain, Best Friends, The No Kill Nation, Alley Cat Allies and thousands upon thousands of other animal organizations around the country that are actually DOING the saving of the animals (unlike the ASPCA really), then why can’t the ASPCA see this? What is the problem here? Shouldn’t they listen to and believe those of us in the trenches? Shouldn’t they come out of their offices and look at what we have to say? Meet with us? Discuss these things? Don’t you think that this is the rational response?
And yet they don’t and again I am shaking my head and baffled completely as to why.
And not only do they refuse to hear us, listen to us, meet with us, discuss all of this with us, they go behind our backs to stop our bills and they fight them tooth and nail and they put all their weight and power and money behind stopping US from helping animals. Again….WHY? Do they have some secret that they can’t let us in on? Some reason for not explaining their actions? Why put ANOTHER bill forth – the disgusting Amy Paulin bill now known across the country as “The Quick Kill Bill”.
If they really wanted to protect animals and want a bill to do so, why not sit with us and rework the wording of CAARA in a way that we could all agree on because I will tell you something dear readers – if the ASPCA came to us and said “Hey, in your bill, this doesn’t make sense and we are concerned about animals as a result” there isn’t a single one of us that wouldn’t say “WHAT? Is our bill missing something? Are we not protecting animals in every way we can with it? WOW! Let’s look at that and reword that so that we can protect animals the best we can!” Do you think any of us would refuse changes that would help animals? I mean – OF COURSE NOT! HELLO! But they do – they don’t invite us in to discuss the bill they are putting forth, they don’t even acknowledge us when we point out massive problems with their bill, or respond to us, they won’t work with us on OUR bill and they don’t try to protect animals. Why not?
Let’s look at the bill that they put out, ok? And again, most of us aren’t lawyers and most of us are not rocket scientists but even in my dumb-not-rocket-scientist way *I* can see the problems here and so can you. So why is it that they can not? Why is it that they won’t discuss this with us, or address this, or fix this, or support the bill that is already THERE that DOES take all of this into account. WHY PUT ANOTHER BILL OUT THERE?
Under the ASPCA & Amy Paulin’s bill, New York State shelters can refuse to give a dog (or even a puppy, or a kitten or a cat or any animal we are able to save) to a rescue group and kill him instead for any of the following reasons (and more):
- The shelter claims the puppy is in “psychological pain” because he whines in the shelter.
- The shelter says the rescue group is hostile because it reported publicly that shelter animals are allowed to wallow in filth while staff is not reprimanded for failure to clean.
- The rescue group is in a neighboring county.
- The shelter states that it does not believe the rescue group can provide adequate care without having to objectively state how or why they arrived at that conclusion.
- The puppy has a cold which the shelter determines to be “contagious” and therefore “deadly” to other animals in the shelter.
- The shelter claims the puppy is aggressive.
By contrast, under CAARA, the shelter would not be able to kill a puppy if a rescue group offered to save him unless:
- The puppy was irremediably suffering and the prognosis for rehabilitation was poor or grave.
- The rescue group had a volunteer, staff, or board member who has charges of animal neglect, cruelty, or dog fighting pending against them or a conviction for neglect, cruelty, or dog fighting.
- The rescue group failed an inspection that was conducted in a timely manner with objective criteria for failing.
I mean are YOU with me here?
If you look at these two bills, which one would YOU support?
And yet the ASPCA supports the one that allows this killing rather than helping the animal? Really? Why?
Under the ASPCA’s bill shelter animals can not only be killed within a minute of arrival and not only can these shelters pick and choose who they want to work with on rescuing these animals from death, but the bill says they “MAY” work with rescue groups – NOT THAT THEY HAVE TO. Additionally, the bill “suggests” that shelters would be required to scan for microchips, match lost and found animals, and post these animals online, BUT IN REALITY THE LEGAL WORDING gives them the ability not to if they determine, wholly within their discretion, it is not PRACTICABLE to do so. Every provision requiring shelters to do anything is preceded by the loophole not to if they determine it is not “practicable” to do so. Also who determines if an animal is “psychologically” suffering? Well if you read the ASPCA’s bill – two people. Pretty much any two people. They don’t have to have any knowledge or any specialized training, they don’t even have to know a single thing about animals. If you and I agree that this animal is psychologically suffering (& excuse me but what the hell does that even MEAN?), even if 2,000 other people say it is not, well then we can kill this animal. We only need two people. Really?
Now all of you that have been to Pets Alive have SEEN the animals when they first come in here. They are terrified. Tails tucked. Shaking like a leaf. Some won’t even MOVE. They huddle at the back of their runs. We’ve all seen it and I have written about it many times. Every one of those dogs could be killed upon intake according to the ASPCA’s bill. You have all witnessed it with your own eyes! That transformation. The tails coming up, the dogs coming to greet you tails wagging in less than a few days. You have all seen us take truly feral and terrified animals and within days or weeks they are out on walks or in loving homes, going up that driveway with their heads out the window and their tongues hanging out and their tails wagging.
You are not a professional.
Yet you know this to be true.
Then why doesn’t the ASPCA know it?
Again I go back to Michael Mountain’s questions of long ago. To understand someone you have to understand what their motives are.
And usually I can.
Power. Greed. Corruption. Money.
I’m just at a loss for this one. Is that what the ASPCA is truly about? Would they harm animals, and not support a bill because of those motivators? Really? But if not, then why? WHY? What are their reasons? And why are we sitting here and wondering why? Why aren’t they telling us? Why are they always silent as we beg them for answers? Why will they not support CAARA? Why would they put forth their own bill that hurts animals and kills animals?
So then we lose on Oreo’s Law, and that ridiculous woman, Amy Paulin with the backing of the ASPCA, submits her bill and it passes the Ag Committee. Now it has to go to the Codes Committee and we have heard from the WONDERFUL, and animal loving, chairman of that committee, Mr Joseph Lentol and he says :
“I am not a sponsor of this bill and have not had any part in its drafting. Those who have voiced their opposition against this bill have raised legitimate questions and I, too, am concerned. Therefore, I do not intend to report this legislation at this time. I believe a great deal more study and work must be done on this issue before legislation can be moved to the floor.”
I want to find this man and kiss him. And hug him. And then kiss him again.
So we are overjoyed and our hearts sing and we go home with smiles on our faces and then what do we hear? We hear that there is one way to FORCE the chairman to put the bill on the floor and that is if the Speaker of the Assembly, Mr. Sheldon Silver overrides him. So we hear that the ASPCA is already talking to him and that he might be very sympathetic to them (and I guess their money and power) and our hearts sink. We don’t even know if the ASPCA has his ear, but we know that Mr. Lentol won’t let this go forward and we don’t know what Mr. Silver will do. And I sit and wonder exactly how powerful IS the ASPCA, but more than that I ask myself over and over and over – why? Why would they do this, why are they doing this? Why? Don’t they care? Don’t they care about how many animals this will affect? Don’t they think CAARA is a better law? If not…why?
And then I think about all that money that they raise and I think about how much our teeny tiny organization has done with almost no money and struggling every month to make sure we can pay our bills, but then I think about all the lives we have saved and all the impact we have had in our community and others, with almost no money. I think wow, if we had that kind of money what could we do? And we hear the head of the ASPCA, Ed Sayres, is looking for another job and I think wouldn’t it be so cool if we could get a guy like Nathan into that position. What would someone like HIM do with all that money? My guess is we would see INSTANT change and no kill communities. Because if you have money and power you can accomplish so much. Look at all the ASPCA has accomplished on the WRONG side – killing Oreo. Killing Oreo’s Law. Killing CAARA. Putting through their own hideous bill. And then think about if they used that power for GOOD what they could have done. Wow. The options and possibilities are staggering.
So why don’t they. Again. Why?
Now let’s look at Assemblywoman Amy Paulin. I have no idea if she is a republican or a democrat. Don’t care. Never bothered to look it up. But here is the important thing. WE voted her into office. We. The people. Her constituents. What does that mean? Well Webster defines it like this: a person who authorizes another to act in his or her behalf. So by voting for Amy Paulin we authorized her to act IN OUR BEHALF. And when she put up this hideous bill, she heard from us. 16,000 people. Did you get that? She heard from 16,000 people that we did NOT want this. What then, gives HER the right to ignore us all and put this forth anyway? Her own interests? Promises from the ASPCA to help fund her campaign? What? Why? Because when you only have 80 people on your Facebook page that follow you and the most replies you’ve EVER had to one of your posts is 3, and suddenly your Facebook page lights up with over 1900+ posts ALL from New Yorkers say ”STOP IT. NO. WE DON’T WANT THIS“, how exactly are you acting in our behalf?
Politicians seem to forget that they work for us. That we put them in office to DO OUR BIDDING. Not the other way around. When they lose sight of that and when they decide to act in what is in THEIR best interest (being buddies with the powerful ASPCA) then we can not re-elect these people. Remember that as she is up for re-election in November and New Yorkers must send her, and all of those like her, a very clear message.
So where are we now.
Well, we are back to square one I guess. Our bill has still not been presented even to the Ag Committee and theirs has passed the Ag committee but been been canned by the Codes Committee Chairman, Joe Lentol. So it all comes back to Sheldon Silver and the ASPCA. Just how powerful IS the ASPCA? Does Sheldon Silver care about animals? Who knows. We know that he does care about his career. And if the ASPCA is in his ear whispering about what they can do for him and perhaps how they can fill his campaign coffers, will he do the right thing, or will he throw Joe Lentrol under a bus and force the bill to the floor? Because here is how it works for those of you that don’t know. The Assembly is sort of like the House of Representatives, but it is only for New York State. The Speaker is much like the speaker on the national level, and he has the same powers. He is the one that decides who heads the committees. He was the one that appointed Joe Lentrol. He has the power to take that away from him, I believe arbitrarily (someone can correct me in the comments if that is not so). The final say on committee chairpersons lies with Sheldon Silver. And Sheldon Silver is the second most powerful man in New York State. Sheldon Silver likely responds to power and I’m sure the ASPCA can promise him many things.
I’m sure they will as this is the last way they have to get their bill passed.
Will he respond to them?
Well THAT is the question.
Can YOU influence his decision?
I don’t know. But you HAVE to try. Because so far the blow up on Amy Paulin’s page and the anger and hostility from New Yorkers over this bill has made a committee chairman pay attention, has made a previous supporter of the bill back off it and remove his name from it (and likely many more will follow suit), and so we have clearly had a major and massive impact. The only thing left for us to do is continue this relentless onslaught and try to make Sheldon Silver pay attention to us and recognize that his constituents are more important than the power of the ASPCA. That if he does for us, and supports us in this, that we will be there for him forever. We need to at least try to make sure he realizes how important this is to us. To this end I ask that you click the link below and send him a letter and politely (in your own words or you can use the text provided) tell him how much this matters to YOU. A New Yorker. And a voter. And mostly, an animal lover.
CLICK HERE TO SEND SHELDON SILVER AN EMAIL (feel free to also follow up with a phone call)
Oh, and by the way…all the animals you see pictured in this blog? PAY ATTENTION TO THIS NOW – every single one of them would, or could, have been euthanized by the ASPCA’s & Amy Paulin’s Quick Kill Bill. Hmmm. Take a another look. All of them. Is this the bill we want for New York?
Independently we are nothing. Collectively, we are EVERYTHING.