As the New York State Senate and Assembly deliberate in the final weeks of the legislative session, several lawmakers, their pets, and advocates gathered for Animal Advocacy Day at the state capitol this week.
The lobby of the Legislative Office Building is a popular venue for press conferences and rallies. If you’re a politician, it’s hard to top babies and animals.
On Tuesday, animals of all kinds mingled with lawmakers and advocates.
Senator James Tedisco, a Republican from Glenville who was one of the original sponsors of Animal Advocacy Day, said the event is now in its eighth year.
“If we don’t protect the least of our creatures, we are not going to be protecting our daughters, our mothers, our brothers, our sons. And that’s why this is an important day. But it’s a good day because we put our swords down and we say let’s stand up for safety for all of the family of New York,” said Tedisco.
Tedisco said the Senate was set to pass nine animal rights bills. Those invited to speak were well-known animal lovers, like local meteorologist Steve Caporizzo, who emceed the event.
Also in attendance were those who lost their companion animals to violence.
Town of Florida resident Denise Krohn’s home was burglarized in February 2016. Krohn came home to find that her two dogs, Kirby and Quigley, had been killed.
Now she is advocating for the passage for a bill named after her animals. It would make it a felony to harm pets during the commission of another felony.
Over the past two years, Krohn says she has communicated with pet owners across the country who have gone through a similar situation. Just last week she spoke with a woman in California.
“A woman came home into her house at 5:30 in the afternoon. She walked in, her house had been burglarized and her dog murdered. Exactly what happened to me in New York State happened a week ago in California,” said Krohn. “I connected with them and so now we actually have some support going…I’m supporting them through what they’re going through. They’re devastated. They’re going through exactly what I went through. But then, eventually I’ll talk to them about doing some advocacy to do a better bill out there.”
Democratic Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara of Rotterdam was also there, holding his three-pound family dog, a Teacup Yorkie named Muffy.
“New York can do better with these laws. I’m the sponsor of several of those bills. And we hope to talk about those pieces of legislation here today. But it’s also about all the support services you see here,” said Santabarbara.
Several dozen animal support organizations were lined up inside the LOB.
Beth Mallett and Kristen Stucker of Little Brook Farm in Old Chatham were joined by Fritz, a miniature horse.
“We can talk about animals all day and not have an animal, but then we bring in an actual pony – well, miniature horse – and it really, like, sets in stone that these are living creatures and they deserve to, like, I dunno, live their life without worrying about anything,” said Mallett.
“And to raise awareness for ending horse slaughter,” added Stucker. “Because he would have gone to slaughter and now he’s 17 years old and obviously a great horse.”
One piece of legislation would make it unlawful to slaughter a horse, or to sell, transport, purchase, possesses, or give away a horse to be slaughtered for human consumption. Another would create the Responsible Retirement of Racehorses’ Fund, which would provide resources to give retired racehorses homes and prevent slaughter.