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June/July 2006
A Seat for the Animals

The Satya Interview with Frank Padavan
By John Phillips

Credited by many as having introduced animal rights to the New York State Legislature, State Senator Frank Padavan (R-Queens) has been twice honored by the ASPCA and twice endorsed for reelection by the League of Humane Voters of New York City. Padavan’s commitment to humane legislation is unwavering; he is, in fact, the Senate sponsor of nearly every animal rights bill.

First elected in 1972, Senator Padavan has sponsored legislation to ban the force-feeding of ducks for foie gras, canned shoots, and the anal and genital electrocution of fur-bearing animals. He has also been working to make cruelty to free-living animals a felony and to allow seniors to live with pets without fear of eviction, and the list goes on and on.

In 2003, the same year he was named Vice President of the Republican-led State Senate, Padavan fought to have his canned shoot bill passed. Governor Pataki unfortunately decided to veto the bill, which would have stopped the recreational slaughter of fenced-in animals.

John Phillips, Executive Director of the League of Humane Voters of New York City, recently spoke with Senator Frank Padavan about his distinguished career of service for all animals.

Frank, thank you for being an incredible ally for animals over the years. Can you tell me what sparked your interest in animal rights issues?
Like all children, animals had a special lure for me. When I was five years old, my father, who worked for the transit system, found a Pekinese-mix dog roaming the subway tracks. He brought her home and thus began my love affair with canine friends. On weekends and during the summer, all through high school and college, I worked for a local veterinarian at the Island Animal Hospital in Hollis, Queens. It was there that I learned how animals should be treated. The doctors at this hospital had a lot of faith in me and I became a surgical assistant. I would administer anesthesia and assisted in spaying and neutering. Also, my daughter is an avid equestrian, so over the past 25 years I have spent a great deal of time at horse farms throughout the Northeast, which has been a wonderful experience for me.

Many advocates are surprised to learn that one of our biggest supporters in the State Senate is a Republican. People often consider animal protection a liberal issue. Can you tell me your thoughts on this?
I don’t consider animal protection a liberal or conservative issue. It depends on the individual legislator and his or her background. When I first came to Albany, a Republican Assemblyman made me aware of the Metcalf Hatch Act, which as you know allowed laboratories to take dogs from a kennel and use them for experimentation. I introduced and signed into law legislation banning this repugnant practice. I will always be grateful to him for making me aware of this issue.

What kind of response do you receive from your Republican and Democratic colleagues when they learn of your support for humane legislation? When it comes to these issues, which party do you find it harder to win the support of?
Again, I do not consider humane legislation a Republican or Democratic issue. As a matter of fact, our Majority Leader, Joe Bruno, owns a horse farm and is married to a lovely lady who is a strong advocate for animal rights; he supports my efforts with regard to animal legislation. It seems to please him, but more importantly his wife.

Clearly, Governor Pataki is not a great friend to animals. Were you surprised when he vetoed your canned shoot bill?
I was surprised and dismayed when Governor Pataki chose to veto the canned shoot bill. The veto message was ridiculous, to say the least. We are continuing to pursue this issue. In the meantime, we will give him a chance to redeem himself. I have introduced and passed in the Senate legislation banning the slaughter of horses for human consumption. With your help I believe we can pass this bill in the Assembly and send it to the Governor for his action.

Do you think a Governor Eliot Spitzer will be any better on humane issues?
I hope that whoever is elected governor will do the right thing on humane issues. In any event, I intend to be here working to convince the new governor that animal rights legislation is important in any civilized society.

What actions can people take to ensure that humane bills become law?
Besides becoming a member of the League of Humane Voters they can influence the outcome of legislation by visiting their representative in their district offices and making them aware of the fact that there are a lot of voters out there who are animal advocates.

John Phillips is the Executive Director of the League of Humane Voters of New York City. For a list of the League’s 2006 endorsements, visit www.humanenyc.orgor call (212) 889-0303. To learn more about Senator Frank Padavan, contact www.frankpadavan.comor (518) 455-3381.


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