Support the New York Companion Animal Protection Act
America is an animal friendly society. Approximately sixty-eight percent of U.S. households own a pet - about 85 million families. Our companion animals are part of our daily lives from the time we wake in the morning until we go to sleep at night. We include them in holiday celebrations, we take them on trips, we buy them gifts, we take time off work to care for them when they are sick, and when the time comes to say goodbye to them due to advanced age or disease, we grieve.
But there is a dark side to our relationship with companion animals which is our collective shame. We kill millions of healthy and treatable animals in our tax-funded ‘shelters’ across the country - and tens of thousands in New York State - every year. Many people simply do not know about what happens at their local pound using their money and in their name. Some who do know about this tragedy believe there is no other way for a shelter to function. There is.
The New York Companion Animal Protection Act (CAPA) is Shelter Reform legislation that was developed by the No Kill Advocacy Center to protect the lives of vulnerable impounded animals. In addition to establishing minimum standards that would improve the quality of care that animals receive in shelters, CAPA would require that certain conditions be met before an animal can be killed that would prevent the senselessly cruel slaughter of thousands of adoptable dogs and cats each year in regressive pounds across New York State
Every day, healthy and treatable animals are being killed behind the scenes. There is no transparency. There are no standards. There is no oversight and no one is ever held accountable. This has to change.
Under the reasonable conditions that CAPA would mandate, pounds would be prohibited from killing a dog or cat when there is available kennel space or when an animal can be transferred to another facility.
CAPA would prevent pounds from killing animals when qualified rescue groups are willing to save them. CAPA would require shelters to notify participating rescue groups of all animals being threatened with death and would grant registered 501(c)(3) organizations the right to rescue those animals on demand.
CAPA would end the policy of rounding-up and killing community cats who are not social with people and do not belong in shelters. Community cats would be spay-neutered and if they could not be adopted they would be released to their habitats in lieu of killing.
CAPA would require shelters to seek foster placement before killing an animal.
And CAPA would end the practice of killing 'owner surrendered' animals within minutes of arrival at the shelter without ever giving them a chance at adoption.
At every turn, CAPA encourages shelters to follow the No Kill Equation, the proven model for open-admission municipal shelters that has led to save rates of upwards of 99% of animals in hundreds of No Kill communities across the nation.
CAPA has already passed in one state and several cities, including Austin, TX, where 99% of dogs and 96% of cats are being saved, and Muncie, IN, where 99% of dogs and 97% of cats are being placed. The open-intake No Kill shelters in both of these model communities achieved their phenomenal success after passing the common-sense statutes of CAPA.
New York should follow the lead of these progressive cities, as well as Saint Paul, MN, which passed CAPA in 2011 and saves over 90% of all animals; and the State of Delaware, where CAPA passed both houses of the legislature unanimously in 2010, resulting in save rates of over 90% statewide.
CAPA is designed to be implemented at no additional cost to taxpayers. In fact, CAPA would save New Yorkers money as it saves lives. In Delaware and every city where CAPA has passed, higher save rates have translated into an increase in the collection of adoption fees and lower costs associated with killing and body disposal. Any additional costs resulting from animals living longer in shelters have been more than offset by the dramatic increase in adoption revenues and corresponding reductions in killing. In other words, No Kill pays for itself.
Moreover, CAPA mandates that shelters form partnerships with 501(c)(3) rescue groups which absorb the costs of animal care, transferring expenses from government-run shelters to private charities, thereby alleviating the burden on taxpayers. This has been demonstrated in every community where CAPA has passed, including California, which passed CAPA-like legislation (the Hayden Law in 1999) which enabled rescue groups to save threatened animals on demand.
A case study in the cost-efficiency of CAPA is Muncie, IN, which passed a sweeping version ofCAPA in 2017, becoming the first community in the nation to make it illegal to kill a healthy or treatable shelter animal. With CAPA as their guide, Muncie Animal Care & Services transformed a hostile high-kill pound (killing roughly 50% of all animals) into the true No Kill shelter it is today, where 99% of all Pit Bulls are being placed in loving homes, a remarkable feat of lifesaving that was accomplished without requiring any increases in Animal Services' municipal budget allocations, which have remained fixed throughout the transition from high-kill to No Kill, proving that No Kill reforms mandated by CAPA are a cost-effective solution for poorly performing pounds, providing value to the community at no additional cost to taxpayers.
The provisions of CAPA are consistent with the No Kill philosophy and ending the outdated and barbaric practice of needless population control killing which is what people would want and expect from our tax-supported shelters which are entrusted with the care of companion and wildlife animals most in need of our help.
After all, it is not unreasonable, and it should not be a point of controversy to require shelters to take a few common sense steps to see to it that animals are adopted rather than killed.
We encourage you to Communicate your support for this lifesaving legislation to the bill sponsors and to your NY State elected officials, who you can find here. Please tell your family, friends, co-workers and people you meet about CAPA and enlist their support. Animals who find themselves in our animal shelters should not be subject to a death sentence. If your companion animal ended up in a shelter due to no fault of your own, surely you would expect him or her to be kept alive. The time has come to enact a law which requires our tax dollars to be used in ways which are consistent with our values in New York State.
We say we value companion animals in our lives. It's time to stop the killing.