Friday, January 21, 2011
Tethering bill is a sham
On Tuesday (1/18), Christine Quinn pushed a bill through the City Council that makes it illegal for NYers to tie up their dogs more than 3 hours. On its surface, this law sounds like a godsend for dogs because chaining is unspeakably cruel. But if you scratch the surface just a little bit, you'll see why the only one who truly benefits from this new law is Quinn herself.
If dogs are, in fact, chained to backyard fences in NYC, they won't benefit from this law because it is unenforceable, as Quinn admits during her press conference about the bill (above).
Because chaining is not a major problem in NYC compared to other forms of animal abuse, local animal rights activists have not made this issue a legislative priority. Instead, they have worked tirelessly for years on meaningful bills that would, in fact, reduce animal suffering in the City -- bills that Quinn has blocked in committee.
So, if the tethering law won't actually help animals and is not a legislative priority for the community, then why did Quinn push this bill through the Council at lightening speed?
Here's why: Quinn is actively campaigning to be NYC's next Mayor, and this bill does the following:
1. It gives unsuspecting NYers the impression that Quinn fights for those who are most vulnerable. Hundreds of thousands of NY voters must have seen Quinn's charade on the news and thought, "Thank god she's putting an end to this abuse."
2. It helps her fight criticism that she's blocked every animal protection bill introduced at City Hall since becoming Speaker. Check your mailboxes for one of her letters: "I love dogs; I listened to you; vote for me if you care about animals."
3. It potentially weakens the animal advocacy's campaign against her. Some advocates who aren't familiar with Quinn's modus operandi will "give her a chance" because they see this as a "first step" which could lead to other bills. This bill is not a first step; it is a political tactic that enables her to add animal legislation to her campaign resume and cross it off of her "to do" list. We've given her way too many chances already.
Quinn picked this particular animal bill to push through the Council because it's compelling on the surface, and it required her to expend no political capital. Why would anyone stand in the way of a bill in which no people or animals are affected in any way? But, at the end of the day, this bill is harmful because it makes the passage of other (meaningful) animal bills more difficult, as the City Council can only spend a finite amount of resources on animal-related legislation. Quinn squandered this opportunity on a bill that helps no one but her. It's so manipulative, deceitful and typical.
The only way Quinn is ever going to move the many meaningful animal bills that she has blocked in committee is if it becomes politically expedient for her to do so. That's where we come in. If you'd like to join a growing group of NYers from the animal rights, human rights, gay rights and good government communities in the campaign against Quinn, please send me an email. We'd love to have you. And please share this email with anyone who might be interested.
See you in the streets.
Sample of animal rights bills blocked by Christine Quinn:
She blocked the bill to ban horse-drawn carriages (CMs told me they couldn't touch that bill because, as one CM put it, it is a "signature issue" for Quinn.)
She blocked the pet store sprinkler bill, which, as I recall, had 45 sponsors in the City Council. That bill was introduced as a result of several pet store fires in which hundreds of animals were killed. I'm guessing she blocked that bill because her real estate donors didn't want to install sprinklers (or something like that).
She blocked the pets in housing bill, which would help alleviate the shelter overcrowding crisis. That bill would allow people who had pets who died to replace them, even if a building changed the rules to prohibit pets. The real estate industry is opposed to this bill because they are able to get rid of rent stabilized tenants who get a new pet.
She blocked the wild animals in circuses bill, which would prevent the use of elephants and other wild animals from performing in NYC. This bill is critical to the animal community because the elephants are beaten into submission with bullhooks, stored in boxcars and abused beyond words in order to get them to perform tricks.
As the League of Humane Voters put it in their 2009 report card, "The biggest obstacle to more humane laws in NYC is the inexplicable opposition by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn who has attacked virtually every effort in the Council to make life better for animals, despite claiming in letters to concerned citizens that she cares about animal welfare."