BOROUGHWIDE — A new bill passed by the City Council to strengthen animal rights is the cat’s meow, pet lovers and a local lawmaker said.
Councilmember Justin Brannan, who sponsored the bill, said his legislation to establish a Mayor’s Office of Animal Welfare will go a long way toward protecting pooches, kitties and other pets.
“They say the greatness of a society and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. That is why, in a truly humane city, animals cannot be treated as an afterthought. By establishing this office, the first of its kind in the nation, New York will lead the way as a city that not only cares about, but prioritizes animal welfare,” said Brannan, who added that New York is the first city in the country to have such an office.
Under the bill, the new office will be headed by a director appointed by the mayor and will have the power to assist the mayor in coordinating agencies dealing with animal welfare issues. The office will also review and recommend budget priorities relating to animal welfare and prepare an annual animal welfare report.
Brannan, a Democrat representing Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and parts of Bensonhurst, recently adopted two rescue dogs from Florida. Brannan and his wife, Leigh Holliday Brannan, named their new pet greyhounds Fiorello and Luna.
But even before becoming a pet owner, Brannan, who is a vegetarian, was an outspoken advocate for animal rights.
With a mayoral-level office, “animal-related issues will no longer be relegated to a disorganized, bureaucratic morass of city agencies,” said Brannan, who added that the new office “will be a centralized division that will ensure strong oversight of all animal affairs, no matter who the mayor is.”
The ASPCA of New York praised the passage of the bill.
The group predicted in a statement on its website that the bill mandating the establishment of the Mayor’s Office of Animal Welfare, along with other animal rights bills the Council passed, “will make a tremendous, positive impact on animals big and small.”
The Council also approved a bill to require the NYPD to report data on animal cruelty cases and another measure to promote pet adoptions.
Borough President Eric Adams applauded the Council’s actions.
“I applaud the City Council for speaking up compassionately and sensibly for animals that share this city with us. It is our obligation as policymakers to ensure that New York City agencies and institutions do not continue to force-feed our health care crisis or perpetuate the suffering of animals,” Adams said in a statement.
The Council also passed a resolution, also sponsored by Brannan, which calls on the state legislature to pass and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a state bill to ban retail pet shops from selling commercially bred dogs, cats and rabbits.
“For too long, big retail pet shops have been selling animals bred from commercial breeders, often referred to as ‘puppy mills.’ These mills have a common practice of over-breeding animals and keeping them in cramped inhumane conditions so as to maximize profits,” Brannan explained.
He called it an “inhumane practice.”