Getting Animals on the Political Radar

Animal Friendly NYC was launched in October 2002 to get animal issues on the radar of local candidates running for office. Each year scores of bills designed to protect animals are introduced in the New York State Legislature and New York City Council. But most never get past the point of being introduced. Why? Most lawmakers aren't even aware of their existence. The bills are introduced, but all too often they languish without any further attention, sometimes for decades.

We realized that we needed to start sending legislators to office already committed to animal issues. And the best way to bring candidates' attention to the issues and to show support for proposed bills is to work directly on their campaigns to help them get elected - and to work with them after they're elected to keep them abreast of animal issues they should support.

We've been remarkably successful for a group that just passed its second anniversary.
  • We got a major piece of legislation for farm animals introduced by working with our first endorsed candidate, State Senator Liz Krueger.

  • We've brought City Councilmembers on as co-sponsors of the pets-in-housing bill, Intro. No. 189.

  • By a broad leafleting effort, we brought the pets-in-housing bill to the attention of the community, resulting in letters and emails to City Councilmembers.

  • Two AFNYC members gave testimony on the pets-in-housing bill before a City Council committee in December 2003.

  • We brought four state candidates on board to support two bills that are essential for New Yorkers with pets - the bill to allow senior citizens to have pets in apartments and the bill to prohibit discrimination against homeowners with certain breeds of dogs.
Who are we?

We're individual New Yorkers working in publishing, education, the arts, fundraising, veterinary medicine, law, and law enforcement. We don't do fundraising, but we get generous donations of time and talent from people who don't necessarily consider themselves animal advocates, but who recognize that what we're doing is valuable.

Because many of us are involved in animal rescue and adoption, we know first hand that unless we get help from our elected officials, the crisis of dog and cat homelessness will continue to swamp city and volunteer efforts. For that reason solving the homeless crisis has been our main focus for the last two elections.

"Animal Friendly NYC was the first animal welfare organization to support my candidacy, and their advocacy has proved to be a potent force throughout New York City.

"It was because of AFNYC that I introduced a bill to ban the practice of slaughtering downed animals. Their present efforts to pass legislation that will protect senior citizens with pets and regulate insurance for homeowners with dogs are indeed worthy causes. My commitment as a legislator to animal welfare issues has been enhanced by the work of AFNYC."

State Senator Liz Krueger
D - Manhattan

But we have a lot on our agenda, and we'll be working on other issues as we grow.

Some of the things we hope to accomplish:
  • Create publicly funded low-cost spay and neuter clinics to drastically cut the number of homeless cats and dogs put down each year by the city - between 30,000 and 40,000 animals.

  • Restrict the sale or adoption of animals to minors.

  • Increase criminal penalties for animal abuse and neglect - and provide funds and other resources to enforce these laws.

  • Require reporting of animal abuse in cases of suspected child abuse.

  • Ban product testing on animals when alternative tests are available.

  • Add vegetarian alternatives to public school lunches.
How do we choose candidates to endorse?

We screen candidates based on their voting records on animal protective legislation. In personal interviews, we solicit their positions on animal issues. In coming elections, we'll circulate candidate questionnaires and publish their responses to voters who join our mailing list, and we'll hold forums at which candidates can directly address animal advocates.

As we grow, we'll endorse more candidates. Because the truth is, New York City is incredibly Animal Friendly, and plenty of our elected officials support legislation and policies that are not only good for animals, but good for us humans too.

All it takes to become part of this - and Animal Friendly NYC - is to hold up your hand. Join us!

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