Best Friends Blog

New York, please help guarantee shelter access now!

Your Action Needed Now: Companion Animal Access and Rescue Act legislation  in New York state. 

New York assemblyman Micah Kellner and Senator Joseph Robach have introduced the Companion Animal Access and Rescue Act (CAARA), which will guarantee shelter access to qualified rescue groups and empower them to claim animals who are scheduled to be destroyed at shelters.

At the present time, New York law does not recognize or distinguish qualified animal rescue organizations as a unique resource capable of saving lives as well as taxpayer money. Euthanizing shelter animals is not only unconscionable, it costs money and is the ultimate form of animal cruelty. Adopting shelter pets to the public or placing them with rescue organizations generates revenue and reduces costs. Sadly, current law does not allow qualified rescue organizations to step in and provide these animals with another chance at life. CAARA will change that.

CAARA is based on the Hayden Law, which was passed in California in 1998, and a similar Delaware law that passed in 2010. The intent of the measure is to find homes for shelter pets, rather than euthanize them. Both bills passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.

In recent weeks, Best Friends Animal Society along with other animal welfare organizations, including Alley Cat Allies and the No Kill Advocacy Center, has been working closely with New York state assemblyman Micah Kellner to help craft this bill. We believe CAARA is important and effective lifesaving legislation that reflects the values and expectations of the animal-loving public.

In addition to helping to save more animals, the bill will set higher standards of care provided to homeless pets in shelters, including fresh food and water on a daily basis, exercise, socialization, clean living spaces and adequate veterinary care. It also will ensure that animal welfare organizations empowered by this bill will be qualified to meet the needs of the animals that they rescue.

It may be surprising to many that New York state does not have such basic provisions in place already, but it doesn’t. The legal standards of care for shelter animals in the Empire State are marginal at best, and while many shelters do work with the rescue community, many do not. Some shelter directors seem to be indifferent to the profound responsibility they have for the lives in their care.

Politics is not a spectator sport, so please act now. If you are a resident of New York, send a message to the Senate and General Assembly Agriculture Committees, in addition to your own state senator and representative. Click here to send your message!

Thank you for taking action for the animals and helping to save our homeless dogs and cats. Working together we can create a time of No More Homeless Pets in New York!

Francis Battista
Co-Founder, Best Friends Animal Society

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  • Sue

    Thank you for helping shelter animals. They don’t deserve to be euthanized because humans are uncaring and don’t know the meaning of a lifetime commitement of care to all animals on this earth.

  • Dove

    While the ASCPA states, on its website, that they do not euthanize animals due to lack of space, I have been seeing articles/blogs pop up that this is not so…that they are, in fact, euthanizing animals when they have limited space available.  Doe anyone out there have a definitive answer.

    On another note, we need a strong, marketing campaign, aimed at veterarians, as well as the general public, that defines the animals we adopt as “animal companions”…not pets.  I, in my daily travels, whenever I hear anyone refer to their animals as “pets”, immediately, directly or indirectly, replace it what I hope will become the common denominator for the animals we love:  our animal companions and family.

  • Lorinicknack

    About time! ACC (which has been in the news recently) needs to STOP euthanizing healthy animals when there’s rescue organizations waiting in the wings to take them and adopt them out.

  • Andres Clark

    I’ts about time New York steps up to the plate for homeless animals.I also think efforts should be stepped up in the law , to penalize acts of cruelty and neglect of defensless animals.The concept of pets being treated as a piece of property ,is both arcane and deplorable, and should be discontinued as soon as possible WORLDWIDE ! As a race we are primarily meat consumers,but the raising and processing these animals is far from acceptable. We can no longer turn our heads and ignore this escalating problem. These are GOD”S creatures and can’t speak out for themselves.We are ALL trying to survive ! Let’s do it with respect and dgnity for all !,especially those who lack a voice.GOD bless groups like BEST FRIENDS.

  • Christy Summerfield

    Thank you so much for introducing me to the No Kill Advocacy Center. Our local Humane Society kills 60% of the animals it takes in. I plan to do what I can to make Michigan a No Kill state starting right here in Ann Arbor.  

  • Karen

    Thank you for your email updating me about this. Keep moving forward with this bill.  Eventually I would like to see a time when we do not license our dogs.  They should not be considered property like a snowmobile or a car.  As their guardians people should have to earn a license to prove that we can give them the proper care and attention that they need.

  • Cynthia

    Let’s not call the killing (murder would be more exact) of these animals ‘euthanasia’!!  The correct description of what is being done is murder…if we can’t speak the name, maybe we should not be doing the act…it would help to focus the public on the need for reform if we used language which clearly defines the acts we discuss…just sayin!!

  • How come you didn’t support Oreo’ Law but you support this? It is the same thing?

  • How come you didn’t support Oreo’ Law but you support this? It is the same thing?

  • How come you didn’t support Oreo’ Law but you support this? It is the same thing?

    • Francis

      CAARA is significantly different from previous versions. The new bill,
      among other things, now includes the requirement of one-year experience
      and a relationship with a veterinarian in order to qualify for the
      right to claim animals being withheld from adoption to the public. It
      also provides access for independent rescuers to exercise the same
      privilege if they work under the umbrella of a qualified organization.
      CAARA includes language that protects dogs with a bite history based on
      unwarranted provocation including protection of property. It also
      provides whistle blower protection for relatives for a rescue that has
      gotten in over their head.

  • lala


  • Ballots

    Fabulous,  we (and several other qualified rescues) have been working with our local kill shelter and they have not had to Euthanize any healthy adoptable dogs in 2 years  now.  Also some older & unhealthy ones are getting out through this program as well. Sadly we are not as far along with cats but have made a big dent there too.  We also have  aggressive spay/neuter programs in effect. The ulimate is the “Qualified”  as here anyone can call themselves a rescue but our shelter works with only the responsible ones.

  • Lovefelines2003

    In addition to my reply with the comment that Los Angeles shelters are very lax sometimes in providing fresh food and water, I will say they are very good about allowing qualified rescue groups to rescue shelter animals. In fact, they have a large list of which rescues are allowed to do so, and from what I know, they are reputable.  They even have the New Hope program for those animals that are red listed and about to be put down so that the rescues can specifically see which animals are in the most danger.  Thank you Francis – I did not know this, and am rather shocked at this.

  • Laurie810

    Rescue groups should be allowed to save animals in over crowded shelters who are scheduled to be put down.  There are many people who would help foster and giver proper care to these beautiful animals who otherwise would not have a chance at a decent life.

  • Merrie

    If there’s ANY WAY for an animals’ life to be saved IT SHOULD BE DONE!!!!  If these beautiful, defenseless animals lives are able to be saved (& they’re able to help others too), by them going to rescue organizations I say it SHOULD BE ALLOWED!!!

  • Catkeypurr

    What is the definition of a “qualified rescue groups”? I think including that definition is very important.
    Anyone that’s ever dealt with cruelty &/or hoarding situations knows this. Many folks collect these animals with the intention of doing good & saving them from death only to put them in horrible situations. Some things are worse than death!

    • Anonymous

      To catkeypurr:  I agree.  The once exception is making sure the so-called rescuer is not a hoarder because life for an animal with a hoarder is worse than death.

      • Anonymous

        Noticed my typo.  It should read the one exception….

    • Francis

      Thanks for your comments here. Qualified rescuers must have at least a one year track record and a relationship with a veterinarian. It also has provisions for inspection of the facilities of a rescue if there is a reasonable suspicion of abuse. No single profile describes every hoarder. Hoarding is a mental condition that is thought to be a subset of obsessive compulsive disorder, and control of the animals is a common feature. Controlling the animals precludes adoption which, by definition, means giving up control of the animal to someone else. Hoarders do not do much in the way of adoptions, so an adoption track record is a good screening mechanism. Of course there are rescues that do adoptions and get in over their heads and look like hoarding situations and that’s why the provisions for inspection are included in the bill.

      • Anonymous

        Thank you for clarifying that. I am relieved there are those provisions to prevent these poor animals from getting into an even worse situation.

      • Thomas

        It is sad that legislation is required to allow legitimate rescues access to pets scheduled to be euthanized.  On the other hand, I strongly support regular, unannounced inspection of any rescue facility, even without a “reasonable suspicion of abuse.”  We have a no kill “sanctuary” that is hellish for the animals, and the family that operates it likes to brag about the animals it rescues and adopts.  And yes, they do adopt a decent number, but they also refuse to adopt a lot more, resigning those dogs to living the rest of their lives in an outdoor kennel, often matted and dirty, even in our harshest Ohio winters, with no quality of life.  (Not my idea of a “sanctuary.”)  Those of us experienced with hoarders recognize this unusual trait wherein the hoarder/rescuer believes no one else can love or care for the animal like they can, while they continue to provide substandard care. The adoption track record would probably be deemed acceptable, and they use a vet office that gets a lot of business from this local family, and is hesitant to offer constructive criticism.  This “sanctuary” also has no public visiting hours.  Visitors and interested adopters are not allowed to visit the kennels, except on a very rare occasion. This family and their brainwashed, young volunteers, bring the dog (or cat) to the office for the potential adopters to see.  Most of the residents in our area are too uneducated in animal welfare to question this strange behavior.  I truly hope that this legislation does not make it too tough for facilities to be inspected, and I also hope that spay/neuter is mandatory for ANY rescue organization pulling from these facilities.

  • In addition to helping to save more animals, the bill will set higher
    standards of care provided to homeless pets in shelters, including fresh
    food and water on a daily basis, exercise, socialization, clean living
    spaces and adequate veterinary care.    FRESH WATER AND FOOD ON A DAILY BASIS?      Why would a shelter not be providing that without a bill???   Is that not the basic definition of a shelter?????????

    • Lovefelines2003

      There are shelters here in Los Angeles that ARE very lax in providing fresh food and water on a daily basis.  Shocking, but true.  Our shelters here in LA have a long way to go.  Francis, is there some way we can send a message if we are not residents of New York State?  I would like to ad my voice in the hopes that this critical bill is passed.

  • Donna Carter

    I’m in Texas, but if your legislators are smart and humane they will be for this bill that allows  shelter access to qualified rescue groups and
    empowers them to claim animals who are scheduled to be destroyed at