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SPEAKER SHORT CHANGES ANIMALS
April 16-22, 2008
To The Editor:
The investigation into Council Speaker Christine Quinn's office concerning slush funds and bogus organizations continues. Time will tell how much she knew and when she knew it. But now seems like a good time to let New Yorkers know her position on issues affecting animals, whether dogs, cats, carriage horses or elephants. Since 2004, Speaker Quinn has consistently received a score of zero on the League of Humane Voters' scorecard, which rates New York City council members on their positions concerning animal-welfare bills before the City Council. Quinn has not supported any of these bills, nor has she allowed any of them to reach the floor for a vote. The bills include allowing pets in housing, even though more than 30,000 animals are killed at city shelters annually; protecting animals in circuses and rodeos; requiring sprinklers in pet shops, shelters and stables; requiring New York City schools to comply with a humane-education mandate; banning foie gras (liver from force-fed ducks) in restaurants; and Council member Tony Avella's legislation banning the cruel carriage horse industry.
Because of Quinn's opposition, most council members will not co-sponsor Intro 658, the bill to ban horse-drawn carriages. Many believe that to support it would be political suicide. So the bill flounders, as do all the other bills concerning animal welfare. A recent article in the Harvard Crimson entitled "Compassionate Campaigners" discussed how people who care about animal issues have become a powerful new constituency against animal abuse. The Crimson referred to this constituency as "news savvy, socially integrated and politically active." While not card-carrying animal rights activists, they care about animals and see a candidate's attitude toward animals as a broader reflection of his or her compassion and character. They are the silent majority of mainstream compassionate voters. Legislators would do well to pay attention to this trend. Elizabeth Forel - Forel is a member, Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages .
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