Animal-Friendly Legislation Moves NYC Toward a More Humane Future

Editor’s note: Although we realize this article isn’t immediately relevant to the current COVID-19 emergency gripping the headlines, we wanted to share the information with our readers because we believe it demonstrates the promise of a positive future.

In November 2019, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed Int. 1478 into law, establishing an Office of Animal Welfare. The local law goes into effect on March 25, 2020, giving the Office the power to advise and assist the Mayor in the coordination and cooperation between agencies relating to animal welfare administration, regulation, management, and programs. This is the first office of its kind in the United States, and only second in the world, following Mexico City. As it is currently planned, the Office’s work will address four main areas: companion animals, working animals, wildlife, and the animal advocacy and animal care community.

In February 2020, Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals President Jane Hoffman met with Christine Kim, Senior Community Liaison for Animal Welfare in the Community Affairs Unit of the NYC Mayor’s Office. Mayor de Blasio created this position in 2015, in response to a white paper titled New York City Animal Welfare Priorities 2014, delivered to the new administration by NYCLASS, the Alliance, and the ASPCA. The first item identified in the proposal was the establishment of an office to oversee policy related to the care of domestic and wild animals.

“It’s exciting to see a single liaison position evolve into a municipal office with its own staff,” says Jane. “This is an important step forward for New York City’s animals.”

On February 28, Alliance Director of Communications Steve Gruber delivered testimony before the New York City Council’s Committee on General Welfare in favor of Int. 1483 and Int. 1484, which address the need to accommodate pets of NYC’s homeless population who are barred from the city’s homeless shelters if they are accompanied by their pet(s). He cited successful models of co-sheltering of pets with their people by Urban Resource Institute (URI), the largest provider of sheltering for families experiencing domestic violence in NYC, and also the co-sheltering of pets at NYC’s emergency shelters during declared disasters.

“We feel strongly that the human-animal bond is critical during times of crisis or stress,” said Steve. “For many people facing homelessness, their pet may be their only source of comfort and stability.”

Steve continues to represent the Alliance on the Animal Planning Task Force (APTF) of NYC Emergency Management (NYCEM). NYCEM created the APTF to develop and help implement plans for disasters — both natural and otherwise. Steve has sat on the APTF since 2006. The task force also includes representatives from Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC), the ASPCA, NYC Veterinary Emergency Response Team (VERT), the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), and other non-profit organizations and City agencies.

Posted in From the President, Helping Pets and People in Crisis, Policy & Legal, Press Release, Safety/Emergency | Leave a comment

Alliance President Mentors Students in Animal Law

In keeping with the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals’ new focus in 2020 — particularly in mentoring individuals and organizations — Alliance President Jane Hoffman guest lectured a law class at NYU School of Law on February 5, 2020, at the invitation of Professor Mariann Sullivan. The class discussion focused on policy. Jane described how lawyers can help shape policy for the benefit of animals and further, how lawyers can go beyond creating and advocating for animal-friendly laws and help shape public opinion.

Jane presented examples of policies that began with the Alliance’s strategic plan and the initiatives outlined in the plan that fueled the steady decrease in euthanasia at NYC’s animal control shelters and the resulting rise in the live release rate since 2003. One of the Alliance’s core programs examined by the class was the NYC Feral Cat Initiative. That program helped to usher in policy changes in the way stray and community cats are treated in New York City and contributed to the passage of Local Law 59, which provides protections for community cats and their human caretakers.

For many years, Jane has encouraged young lawyers to become members of Animal Law Committees in their communities and, where no Animal Law Committee exists, to start one with their local Bar Association. As early as 2002, Jane presented a lecture on The Role of Bar Associations in the Development of Animal Law at the UCLA School of Law. She is a Founding Member and former Secretary and Chair of the New York City Bar Association’s Animal Law Committee, the first of its kind in the United States, and was awarded the inaugural Excellence in the Advancement of Animal Law Award from the American Bar Association (ABA) TIPS section at the ABA Annual Conference held in San Francisco in 2007. Earlier this year, Jane was awarded the SEEDS Award by the International Society for Animal Rights (ISAR). This newly created award honors individuals and not-for-profit entities that have made exceptional contributions to the important and burgeoning field of Animal Law.

As a result of Jane’s class lecture in February, she subsequently met with one of the law students from the class and encouraged her to become a student member of the Animal Law Committee. Additionally, Jane will introduce her to other leaders in the field of animal welfare who can continue to act as mentors.

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Alliance Shares Lifesaving Experience with Saint Louis Petlover Coalition

Photo by Steve Gruber

In keeping with the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals’ new direction for 2020, Alliance President Jane Hoffman met with the Saint Louis Petlover Coalition in St. Louis, MO, on January 15, at the invitation of the Coalition’s host, Nestlé Purina PetCare Company. The Alliance’s Director of Communications, Steve Gruber, also participated in the meeting.

Catherine “Cat” Small, Shelter Program Lead for the Nestlé Purina, based in St. Louis, and a guiding force behind the Coalition for the past several years, invited the Alliance to share with the Coalition — represented by leaders of local shelters, rescue groups, and animal control agencies — strategies that proved successful in the Alliance’s efforts to move New York City’s live release rate from 26% in 2003 to a sustained 90%-plus live release rate for the past three years.

Jane presented a PowerPoint to the group at their bi-monthly breakfast meeting. Following her presentation, individual discussions with some of the group’s participants opened the door to future follow-up discussions and meetings with group members.

In 2019, the Alliance redefined its core initiatives. One of those initiatives is to act as a consultant, advisor, and mentor to communities nationally — sharing our knowledge and proven best practices to communities seeking to increase live release rates of shelter animals.

Posted in From the President, Pet Adoption | Leave a comment

The Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals: Our Mission Continues…

Having accomplished our mission to transform New York City into a no-kill city, the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals will now focus on our role as a capacity-builder, a connector, and hub for NYC animal welfare.

To that end, we have revamped our website to provide more in-depth resources for people who want to help animals, and people who need help to care for their pets.

Going forward, we will:

  • Advocate for pet adoption, spay/neuter, and responsible pet ownership.
  • Provide limited services, resources, and guidance to local animal rescue groups and shelters.
  • Act as a consultant, advisor, and mentor to communities nationally. In this role, we will share our knowledge and proven best practices to communities seeking to increase live release rates of shelter animals.
  • Work with the City of New York to address animal welfare-related issues in our community. For example, we will:
    • Work with the administration, lawmakers, and influencers to develop pro-animal legislation.
    • Continue to serve on the NYC Emergency Management (NYCEM) Animal Planning Task Force to develop and execute emergency response protocols for pet owners and their pets.
    • Continue to provide volunteers to support the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH)’s pet vaccination clinics.

Thank you for your support as we continue to strive to improve the lives of NYC’s animals and the people who care for them!

Save a Life. Donate Now.

Posted in From the President, Fundraising, Pet Care & Training, Policy & Legal, Press Release, Safety/Emergency | 1 Comment

Alliance Transfers Lifesaving Animal Welfare Programs and Shares Plans for the Future

   

Mayor's Alliance for NYC's AnimalsThe Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals was created in 2003 as a New York City 501(c)(3) non-profit animal welfare umbrella organization. Our mission was to transform NYC into a no-kill city, where no healthy or treatable cats and dogs are killed simply because they do not have homes. Before the Alliance’s founding, the live release rate at NYC’s municipal shelter system, Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC), was under 25%. In 2005, having secured a Maddie’s Fund grant, we launched our ten-year strategic plan.

Today, thanks to the programs and services created by the Alliance, coupled with the work and dedication of the more than 150 Alliance Participating Organizations that collaborated in our mission, ACC’s live release rate in 2019 is above 90% for the third consecutive year.

Having accomplished our mission to make New York City a no-kill city, the Alliance reevaluated our programming to adapt to the evolving landscape of animal welfare in NYC. After creating an ecosystem of animal welfare in NYC and sustaining the tremendous success it created, in 2019 we thoughtfully and carefully transitioned our key programming to other nonprofit partners. The Alliance will continue to think critically about our role in NYC as the capacity-builder, as the connector, and as a hub for NYC animal welfare, and how to best transition those roles in the future.

Our Roles Going Forward:

  • We will maintain our website to serve as a self-help desk for NYC residents who want to help animals, or who need help.
  • We will continue to provide limited services, resources, and guidance to local animal rescue groups and shelters.
  • We will continue to work with the City, thinking critically and strategically to address animal welfare-related issues in our community.
  • For years, the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals has been called upon many times to act as a consultant, advisor, and mentor in municipalities nationally. This will be an ongoing and increasing need in the years to come, and we will continue to be available in this capacity in the future.

   


(Photo by Krista Menzel)
Wheels of Hope

Between 2005 and May 2019, the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals provided free transport for shelter animals from Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC) via our Wheels of Hope program. This unique program transported up to dozens of animals at one time within a five-hour radius of New York City, moving more than 130,000 animals to no-kill animal shelters, rescue groups, and other safe havens over the years. As the number of transports declined because of our collective success in increasing adoption rates and decreasing shelter intake rates, the Alliance made the strategic decision to transition our Wheels of Hope to another organization poised to fund and operate an animal transport program to meet future community needs.

In May 2019, Best Friends Animal Society assumed the Wheels of Hope drivers, transport coordinators, vehicles, and all Wheels of Hope assets.


(Photo by Mark McQueen, phoDOGraphy.com)
Adoptapalooza

Several times each year from 2010 through 2018, the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals presented Adoptapalooza — our signature mega pet adoption extravaganza — in Union Square Park and other locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. These free public events featured between 300 and 500 wonderful cats, dogs, and rabbits for adoption from 20–40 NYC-area shelters and rescue groups. Each Adoptapalooza also featured additional activities, including advice on pet care, training, and grooming; product giveaways; microchipping; dog licensing; pet photographers; dog performances; and other fun activities for the whole family — two- and four-legged alike.

After finding homes for more than 17,000 animals at Adoptapalooza events over the years, in May 2019, the Alliance transferred Adoptapalooza — including its volunteers, event equipment and supplies, and online presence — to Rock & Rawhide.


(Photo by Krista Menzel)
New York City Feral Cat Initiative

Since 2005, the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, through its New York City Feral Cat Initiative (NYCFCI), supported the efforts of organizations and individuals who work to help feral and stray community cats through Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), with the goal of humanely reducing the population of community cats in NYC.

The NYCFCI’s support services include free TNR certification workshops; free specialty training workshops, such as bottle-feeding, taming kittens, shelter building, and neighborhood relations; free loans of traps, dividers, and cages; free transport of traps and cats to and from clinics and holding/recovery space via the Alliance’s Wheels of Hope vans; free community outreach materials, advice, public education, and resources via phone and email help desks and its website; and help building relationships among members of the TNR community, local businesses, schools, and scout troops, and with NYC government and other entities, including the NYPD and NYFD.

The NYCFCI’s reach has grown nationally and internationally. Through in-person and webinar sessions, NYCFCI representatives have demonstrated for community leaders and cat caretakers in other cities and countries how to manage their community cat populations through TNR.

In 2019, the Alliance transferred its NYCFCI assets — including personnel, training and outreach materials, and physical equipment and supplies, including a transport vehicle — to Bideawee, an organization that possesses tremendous capacity, both fiscally and organizationally, to take the program to the next level.


Video: Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals Celebrates Success of Key Initiatives

This video offers a glimpse into the Alliance’s programs, which over the years helped to save more than 350,000 lives and increase NYC’s live release rate to more than 90%. We offer our heartfelt thanks to 1010 WINS Anchor and All For Animals TV Host Susan Richard for capturing the Alliance’s success on film, and for featuring the Alliance and other NYC animal welfare organizations, programs, and events for the past decade!

   

Posted in Alliance Participating Organizations, Animal Care & Control of NYC, Events & Campaigns, Feral Cats & TNR, From the President, Helping Pets and People in Crisis, Maddie's Fund, Pet Adoption, Press Release, Wheels of Hope | Leave a comment