Yesterday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a 2017-18 state budget that includes a little-noticed item—one that until this year never found its way into fine print in the state’s spending plan. It’s a $5 million funding source, designated as the Companion Animal Capital Fund, that provides independent humane societies, SPCAs, and nonprofit and municipal shelters with matching grants for capital projects. As is the case across the nation, many of New York’s shelters are in desperate need of repairs and upgrades to their facilities. According to the New York State Animal Protection Federation, which successfully led lobbying efforts to pass this measure in Albany with support from The HSUS, over 20 percent of respondents to a recent shelter survey indicated a need to fully replace their facilities. These shelters do not receive any direct state funding, yet state law requires that every municipality operate an animal shelter or contract with an agency to provide services.
There are thousands of public and private animal shelters across the nation that provide essential, lifesaving services that benefit animals and people in our communities. These services include rescue and placement of homeless animals, spay-and-neuter services, cruelty and neglect investigations and enforcement, and humane education for the next generation. Fundraising is difficult in the best of circumstances, but so competitive with so many non-profits seeking funding for critical programs. New York’s program will provide a new and very welcome source of funds, so that eligible shelters can focus more of their attention on increasing adoptions and providing for homeless animals under their care.
Helping to secure this funding is just one example of the way in which The HSUS helps animal shelters at the local level. We are getting ready for the 26th annual Animal Care Expo, the largest national training conference and trade show for animal welfare professionals, from May 9-12 in Fort Lauderdale, which is a key example of our ongoing efforts to create a strong foundation for the local work of shelters everywhere.
There are other examples, too.
Late last week, we facilitated the transport of nearly 200 dogs from Puerto Rico shelters to the mainland, where our Emergency Placement Partners (a network of more than 300 shelters we work with to place animals in crisis) will work to adopt them into loving new homes they would have been unlikely to find had they stayed behind. That’s just one part of our Humane Puerto Rico project, which is a multi-dimensional program that, among other things, is lifting the fortunes of every animal shelter in the Commonwealth.
Our Animal Rescue Team responds to crisis situations for animals all throughout the nation that would overwhelm local humane organizations or animal care operations, delivering animals from crisis situations and into the arms of our Emergency Placement Partners. Meanwhile, we are continuing with Maddie’s Fund and the Ad Council to promote the adoption of homeless animals through our Shelter Pet Project advertising campaign, which has to date generated more than a quarter billion in advertising to eliminate the stigma associated with shelter animals. We also publish Animal Sheltering Magazine, run our lifesaving Pets for Life program, our Rural Area Veterinary Services programs, and so much more.
Our own work to help shelters and companion animals is so rich and so varied. But today, we celebrate the action in New York. By creating a system to support new infrastructure for the state’s aging animal shelter facilities, New York’s governor and legislature have taken meaningful and commendable actions that will improve conditions for animals across the state. State and local governments also have a role in solving community-based problems that result from reckless and ill-considered human behavior. The burden of caring for companion animals who are homeless or the victims of abuse and neglect requires a private and public response. New York is living up to part of its shared responsibility with this important legislative action. We salute the key lawmakers, Senator Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore) and Assemblymember Deborah Glick (D-Manhattan), and Governor Cuomo for taking action