CCHS And NCCR Representatives Meet With County Executive George Borrello
Saturday, November 23, 2019
Representatives from the Chautauqua County Humane Society and Northern Chautauqua Canine Rescue had the opportunity to sit down with Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello who was recently elected to the New York State Senate, 57th District, representing all of Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, and Allegheny counties and a portion of Livingston county.
The discussion started with talk of what more can be done to protect animals in a state whose animal protection rating is in the lower half of all of the states in the country according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and the fact that animals are still considered personal property. Borrello said, “First and foremost, you’re probably aware that (as Chautauqua County Executive) I pushed hard to get the Animal Abuse Registry and we got that done, which is great. One of the issues when we were looking into this is the fact that our Ag and Markets laws are really outdated.” Borrello added that he would like to see the Animal Abuse Registry go statewide.
There is a Standing Committee on Domestic Animal Welfare in the NYS Senate and Borrello is hoping to be on that committee. Borrello says that the goal is to be able to reform the state’s very outdated Ag and Markets law, but do so in a way that it doesn’t overtax the already overburdened farmers. Borrello said that we do need to make our laws stricter to safeguard domestic animals. “There are not enough penalties out there,” he said. “If you do something involving abuse or neglect the penalties are just not harsh enough. It doesn’t discourage people from doing it. Anyone capable of harming an animal is obviously capable of far worse. That is someone who doesn’t value life, period.” He also said that if he lands on the committee he hopes they can come up with some “clear cut legislation that would have broad support. I’m going to ask to be on that committee and they probably need people to be on that committee.”
Regarding puppy mills, Borrello said, “There are so many unwanted animals that are neglected, there’s no reason to buy a dog or a cat, go adopt an animal that needs a home. We have currently five indoor cats and all of them are rescues.” Borrello pointed out that what is going to make the difference is education and awareness to eliminate the demand for puppy mill dogs.
The issue of feral and community cats is one that Borrello is all too familiar with. Borrello said, “We started doing our TNR program in our community ten years ago. We had a horrible problem with our ferals and now our colonies are small and we haven’t had a litter of kittens in I don’t know how long. The problem we have now is that people will drop cats off. We just had one two weeks ago and it was the most lovable kitten I’ve ever met and we had it in the house for a while. We got it fixed and we found some people that we knew that wanted to adopt it.” Borrello went on to say that if we could get some community-based TNR programs in place, it would be better to fund community organizations that have the right team of people to address these issues and get animals the necessary help.
Recognizing the problem of our exploding local cat population, it was noted to Borrello that with the work of contracted veterinarians the Chautauqua County Humane Society now performs 3,100 spay/neuter surgeries annually. CCHS is held to that number due to space and resource issues, including the inability to consider bringing on a full time veterinarian due to stipulations in the New York State education laws (§6706). Borrello offered that laws of this nature need to be looked at and changed to better reflect our times.
The conversation ended with Borrello urging those in attendance to work with other local animal organizations to create a list of priorities for reform as he will be looking to introduce new animal welfare legislation in the New York State Senate.
The purpose of this conversation and others like it is, “To create a culture throughout the area where people know how to get involved in the political process to make a real difference in the lives of animals,” said Kellie Roberts, CCHS Executive Director. “Using social media to air concerns is not effective in creating change. If you know where your representatives stand on the issues that are important to you -- such as the welfare of animals -- then you can become a better advocate. We also want animals to be on the radar of our elected officials and we are opening that door by meeting with area leaders to keep the conversation moving forward.”