Score for the Animals
By John Phillips
The League of Humane Voters
of New York City (LOHV-NYC) exists to help elect candidates to office
who support pro-animal measures. Founded
in 2001, we were the first and still are the only registered political
action committee (PAC) focused on humane issues in the city. We have
enjoyed tremendous success over the past few years. As we approach
our fifth anniversary in 2006, our membership numbers more than 6,000.
In January, as part of our ongoing effort to hold elected officials
accountable to their constituents on animal issues, we published the
first-ever humane scorecard
for the city legislature. Our 2004-2005 New York City Council Humane Scorecard
tracks Council Members’ votes and sponsorship of legislation which have
profound impact on the lives of animals.
The following five bills and two resolutions were used to determine the score
for each member. As you will see, Council Members Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan),
Madeline Provenzano (D-Bronx) and Joel Rivera (D-Bronx) all received zeros, while
two out of the 51 members of the City Council did exceptionally well—Brooklyn
Council Members Leticia James and Sara Gonzalez were the only legislators in
the City Council to receive perfect scores.
As of March 2006, all of these bills except the pets in housing bill are pending
re-introduction in the City Council’s new session. We hope humane voters
will familiarize themselves with the different types of legislation affecting
animals and voice their support or opposition to their Council Members in the
Pets in Housing (Intro. No. 189-A/ Intro. No. 747)
The pets in housing bill would clarify existing law regarding tenants and their
companion animals. It states that once the no-pet clause is waived, it is waived
for the duration of the tenant’s occupancy—not the lifetime of one
individual animal. In other words, if the animal you are living with passes away
or for some other reason no longer lives with you, you would be allowed to adopt
another. In December 2004, Intro. 189-A was passed out of committee and was expected
to pass the full Council the next day. Instead, Speaker Gifford Miller had the
bill sent back to committee where it languished for the rest of the session.
In response to concerns from the real estate industry, Council Member Tony Avella
introduced a compromise bill, Intro. 747, late in the session. We supported both
bills. For clarity, Council Members who supported either bill received a positive
rating on our scorecard.
Pet Shop Sprinklers (Intro. No. 217)
Following a series of fires which left thousands of animals dead, legislation
was introduced to require the installation of sprinklers in facilities which
shelter animals for more than 24 hours. LOHV-NYC threw its full support behind
this bill, effectively doubling the number of sponsors in two months. However,
the main sponsor of the bill, Madeline Provenzano, was positively uncooperative
and the bill died in committee.
Endangered Species: Not for Sale (Intro. No. 367-A)
The sale and purchase of members of endangered or threatened species in whole
or in part is already illegal under federal and state law. Intro. No. 367-A
eliminated the need to prove through expensive and time-consuming testing if
a product contains,
in fact, an endangered or threatened species. It makes illegal the sale or
purchase of products claiming to contain individuals of these species even
if they do
not. Thanks to the efforts of Council Member Yvette Clarke, this bill was signed
into law by the Mayor on December 1, 2004.
Rodeo: Cruelty for a Buck (Intro. No. 472)
Many are surprised to learn that rodeos actually take place in New York City.
This bill would prohibit the use of cruel devices in rodeos such as electric
prods and flank straps (also called bucking straps). In addition, the bill
would stop many cruel events like calf roping and steer wrestling. Despite
support of a majority of the City Council, the bill failed to move. Speaker
Gifford Miller and Council Member Christine Quinn, then Chair of the Health
where the bill was assigned, both dismissed cruelty to animals in rodeo, saying
that it was not an issue.
Fur: Cruel and Unnecessary (Reso. 1198)
After being shown footage of animals suffering on fur farms in China, Peter
Vallone, Jr. introduced this resolution, which calls upon the City Council
the use of fur in New York City. The resolution states “while the fur industry,
clothing designers and makers have made fur trendy, widely accessible and affordable
and a highly lucrative business, they in no way can justify the need for fur,
especially at the expense of millions of animals’ lives, which can be
snuffed out by methods that can only be described as excessively cruel and
A Ban on Pit Bulls (Reso. 43)
This is a very unfair resolution that calls for
the New York State legislature to repeal a current law, which prevents municipalities
such as NYC from banning
the ownership or possession of specific breeds of “dangerous” dogs,
such as pit bulls. This bill makes little sense to the many responsible people
who live with pit bulls and other dog companions who are unjustly maligned.
A Ban on Cruelty-Free Transportation in Midtown (Intro. No. 740)
Responding to pressure from carriage horse industry lobbyists, legislation
was introduced late in the session to ban pedicabs from operating in Midtown
Ironically, the stated reason for the ban is out of concern for public safety.
Just weeks after this bill was introduced, a horse named Spotty got spooked
and ran through city streets to his death. Three humans were injured in the
one seriously. LOHV-NYC believes that tourists and residents of the city deserve
a humane alternative to horse-drawn carriages; pedicabs are just this.
John Phillips is Executive Director of The League of Humane Voters of New York
City. For more information contact www.HumaneNYC.org or (212) 889-0303.
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