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STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 4781 2011-2012 Regular Sessions IN SENATE April 25, 2011 ___________ Introduced by Sen. ROBACH -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Investigations and Govern- ment Operations AN ACT to amend the state law, in relation to designating rescue dogs as the official state dog The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem- bly, do enact as follows: 1 Section 1. Legislative intent. Throughout history, art and literature 2 have depicted humans in all walks of life and social strata with dogs, 3 illustrating their widespread acceptance in everyday life. Some reli- 4 gions even incorporated them into their worship. Indeed, dogs have long 5 been admired for the purity of their character traits, with military 6 annals documenting the wartime bravery and courage of dogs in the K-9 7 Corps. 8 Closer to home, our own culture is populated with examples of the 9 well-established place dogs have found in our hearts and homes. People 10 of all ages, but particularly the elderly and the young, enjoy their 11 companionship. For single people, dogs offer a welcome relief from lone- 12 liness. For children, an animal in the home contributes warmth and 13 unconditional love, and teaches responsibility and consideration for the 14 needs of another creature. Those who suffer from disease or injury expe- 15 rience a therapeutic, even spiritual, benefit from their presence. 16 Dogs do so much good for the community: they give us a sense of opti- 17 mism, safeguard us from depression and loneliness, and break down the 18 barriers that isolate us from one another. Their presence improves our 19 health, protects us from danger, and teaches us about caring and respon- 20 sibility. And they ask for so little in return. 21 Sadly, as many as 4 million dogs enter animal shelters in the United 22 States each year. Over 90 percent of these dogs are savable. Most of 23 them are simply victims of circumstance, ending up in a shelter through 24 no fault of their own: a person moves, a couple divorces, a job is lost, EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD09997-02-1S. 4781 2 1 someone gets ill or dies. Most of the dogs are healthy, well-behaved, 2 and even housetrained. 3 Unfortunately, some people perceive rescue animals as "damaged," 4 concerned that the reason they are in the shelter is because something 5 is wrong with them. Nothing could be further from the truth. But because 6 of that perception, some people choose not to adopt. Tragically, roughly 7 half of all dogs in shelters are killed. 8 The deaths of these innocent animals can be prevented through 9 adoption. Shelter and rescue animals are eager to become beloved members 10 of a family, unconditionally loving and loyal pets, grateful for a 11 second chance. 12 While some with special needs might need a little extra TLC, they can 13 become members of loving homes, as many of the dogs saved from the 14 horrific dog fighting operation in the Michael Vick case have proven. 15 Adopting an animal from a shelter or rescue group eases the burden on 16 the shelter or rescue group, enabling it to continue to serve the commu- 17 nity by taking in other unwanted or needy animals. Generally, dogs 18 adopted from shelters or rescue groups are neutered or spayed, thus 19 reducing the number of homeless dogs in the state. 20 There are many benefits to adopting an animal from a shelter, ranging 21 from the ownership support services that most shelters and rescues offer 22 to the ability to adopt a dog that is already trained and housetrained. 23 Many animal shelters and rescue organizations provide new owners with an 24 array of material concerning their new pet's personality, temperament, 25 habits and other general qualities, and relating to training, common 26 behavior problems, feeding, general care and more. In addition, there is 27 the satisfaction of knowing that through adoption, a life has been 28 saved. 29 As with the designation of other state symbols, such as the state 30 flower or state tree, designating the rescue dog as official state dog 31 will serve an important educational function. The state will promote 32 humane education, providing opportunities for children in particular to 33 learn about adopting rescued animals, as well as about the importance of 34 measures such as spaying and neutering pets, providing them with micro- 35 chip identification implants, and providing responsive pet care-all of 36 which have been proven to reduce the number of animals arriving in shel- 37 ters. 38 The legislature hereby finds and declares it necessary and in good 39 policy of the state to promote and encourage the adoption of animals 40 from animal shelters and animal rescue organizations and to recognize 41 the services these entities provide. 42 § 2. The state law is amended by adding a new section 84-a to read as 43 follows: 44 § 84-a. State dog. The rescue dog shall be the official dog of the 45 state of New York. As used in this section "rescue dog" means a dog of 46 any breed or mixture of breeds rescued and adopted from an animal shel- 47 ter or rescue group located in the state. 48 § 3. This act shall take effect immediately.