Why NY’s CAARA Won’t Work

New York Assembly Member Micah Kellner’s bill, A 7312-C, ambitiously known as the  Companion Animal and Rescue Act or CAARA, simply won’t work and would
threaten the safety of animals.

Mr. Kellner’s bill would require shelters to turn over animals on demand to
private rescues.

Under CAARA no inspection of a rescue is possible unless a
determination is made there is a “legally sufficient” “reasonable suspicion”
of a violation of the animal cruelty laws. The suspicion cannot be based on
an anonymous complaint “except if made by a relative of the rescuer.” (It is
not clear how a shelter would know the person is a relative if the caller is

It’s unclear how a shelter would make this determination short of involving
law enforcement and judges. How else does a shelter determine
“reasonable suspicion” to believe there is a violation of the animal cruelty
laws? It is not clear that it would even be constitutional for law
enforcement or for the state to authorize shelters to enter a private rescue
based on the “reasonable suspicion” standard. Typically, entry onto private
property in this situation requires evidence of probable cause as
determined by a judge.

What if the rescue doesn’t think there is a “reasonable suspicion” that it is
in violation of cruelty laws and won’t allow the shelter to inspect? In fact,
what rescue would allow a shelter into its facility after being told there is a
“reasonable suspicion” the rescue is violating the law? None, and the
rescue’s attorney would tell the staff not to let the shelter in the door.

Under the bill the shelter could not limit the rescues geographically. How
would the shelter determine if there is a “reasonable suspicion” a rescue in
Idaho or Nevada may be in violation of their states’ laws?

The Kellner bill has no criteria for inspections, assuming a shelter can
determine what is meant by “reasonable suspicion” and somehow gain
entry to the rescue.

The inspection component is illusory. The Kellner bill also does not
otherwise impose any standards of care on rescues beyond the animal
cruelty laws.

That’s not all. Under CAARA a rescue would not fail an inspection
unless criminal charges are filed. No matter how bad the place is, unless
charges are filed, the animal must be released to the rescue. We know how
difficult it is to get charges filed for violations of animal cruelty laws. There
are innumerable instances of hoarders, overcrowded and unsanitary
facilities, or just overwhelmed rescues that take in too many animals and
can’t care for them. It can take months to get charges filed, if at all.

The shelter is supposed to continue to turn animals over to these places
pending the filing of charges? Mr. Kellner’s bill says yes.

Under Mr. Kellner’s bill, assuming an inspection can ever take place, which is
unlikely, animals could well end up with a hoarder or in a situation of abuse
simply because prosecutors couldn’t or wouldn’t file charges against a

Curiously, CAARA states shelters could require rescues to submit their
articles of incorporation and show they have a relationship with a vet by
submitting one invoice. None of this has anything to do with protecting
animals from harm; they are odd requirements given that any hoarder or
abuser can show an incorporation date and get an invoice from a vet. Some
of the worst animal cruelty and neglect has been committed by 501c3 non-­‐

Under CAARA shelters could only otherwise exclude rescues if they
have a board member, staff or volunteer that has been convicted or is
currently criminally charged with animal cruelty or dog fighting. (It’s not
clear why any animal fighting is not a disqualifier.) Shelters would be
required to give animals to rescues with someone convicted of other
violent crimes like murder, or who has been found in violation of other
animal protection laws.

Assembly Member Amy Paulin’s Shelter Access bill, on the other hand, A 5449-C, requires shelters to maintain a list of eligible rescues they must contact
before euthanizing any animal to find out if the rescue can take the animal.

As long as rescues meet certain stated criteria, they have a right to be on
the list. Shelters must put in writing to the rescue exactly the reasons why
the rescue is not on the list and give the rescue a chance to correct any

Most shelters in New York are already working with rescues to get animals
out of shelters. The Paulin Shelter Access bill will make sure all shelters
work with rescues and at the same time that animals will be safe and
provided with adequate care. The Shelter Access bill will provide a
framework for shelters and qualified rescues to work together. Choose to
protect the animals. Choose the Shelter Access bill.