Articles ASPCA

Pens Before Pets: Amy Paulin Seeks Revenge

And she is willing to sacrifice tens of thousands of animals in shelters to get it.

In time, Amy Paulin’s tenure in the New York State legislature will mean very little and will be largely forgotten. That’s because Paulin doesn’t care about issues as much as she cares about tokens. Specifically, she cares about “pen certificates.” A pen certificate is a framed copy of a bill signed by the governor, complete with the actual pen used to sign the bill. Paulin likes the pens and the certificates. Lots of them. She puts them on her wall, a tribute to all her Pyrrhic victories that have done nothing substantive to right some wrong or truly advance good government. According to Paulin’s website, “Since her election to the Assembly, 121 of her bills have been signed into law. In 2011 alone, Paulin authored 16 bills that passed both houses, placing her in the top 3% of members.” But there is a reason for that; actually two reasons:

  1. She is willing to introduce anything and has a reputation of not reading those bills, effectively rubber-stamping the desire of special interests; and,
  2. She is willing to amend the bills to the point that they are largely meaningless (they can’t even be called symbolic).

A few years ago, for example, Paulin introduced legislation: “The Transparency of Shelter Operations Act.” The bill would have required New York State shelters to post how many animals they save and kill online and to do so quarterly. If shelters are transparent, taxpayers and animal lovers will demand accountability—and improvement. At least, that should have been the defining issue. But Paulin doesn’t care about those issues as much as she cares about getting the pen certificate for the bill. So when kill shelters objected that they should not be held accountable and that taxpayers and animal lovers had no right to know that they were slaughtering animals, she amended it so that it only applied to shelters that receive state funding, of which there were only a couple in the entire state. In one stroke of the keyboard, Paulin exempted over 95% of all New York State kill shelters. After more objections, she further amended the bill, eliminating the requirement that the information be posted online. In fact, even state-funded shelters would not have had to affirmatively make the information public. What was left was a bill that did virtually nothing.

Anything to get another pen certificate. It’s quantity for Paulin, not quality. In the race for pen certificates, Paulin is the gold medalist, not that anyone else is competing. When you are the only person in a race you created, of course you’ll win. In fact, as to her Quick Kill/Quiet Kill bill (A05449C), she believes she’ll get it, too. She said so. Specifically, she stated that when the “emotions” of the “ignorant” and “uninformed” New York masses—who happen to pay her salary and whose will she is supposed to represent—die down, the bill will pass because the mighty ASPCA is behind it. And so at the request of Ed Sayres of the ASPCA and Jane Hoffman of the Mayor’s Alliance for New York City animals, her bill (which she re-amended this week):

  • Eviscerates whistleblower protections for rescuers;
  • Allows shelters to turn rescuers away if they question inhumane treatment and continued killing in those shelters;
  • Allows shelters to turn away rescue groups if they are not local (thus preserving Jane Hoffman’s power at the expense of the animals and allowing rural shelters to avoid working with rescue groups in Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester, and New York City where homes are in greater abundance);
  • Allows shelters to enter foster homes based on an undefined belief that they should (a tactic of intimidation and harassment); and,
  • Only allows rescues “if approved” by the shelter, an approval that can be withheld for questioning their rates of killing.

In short, Amy Paulin is willing to sacrifice thousands of animals for a framed certificate and a pen. She is also willing to subvert the democratic process. She is asking the Speaker of the Assembly to do an end-run around the committee system and bring the bill directly to the floor, where uninformed legislators will think they are helping animals because the (corrupt) ASPCA is behind it. If the ASPCA says it is good for animals, it must be!

It’s dishonest. It’s undemocratic. And it’s reactionary. Why is she willing to go that far? Why will this pen certificate take its coveted place at the center of all the others that adorn her wall? Why will this be the sweetest certificate of them all, regardless of how much animal blood is shed to get it? Why is she digging in her heels, when most legislators would have backed down in deference to the voice of the people? Because this one is personal. This one is driven by revenge.

Thanks to tens of thousands of New Yorkers who spoke out against the bill, 11 cosponsors withdrew their support for it and the Senator who introduced the bill on her behalf withdrew it in the Senate. Moreover, articles and editorials have appeared in the district newspaper against her bill, tens of thousands of emails from New Yorkers have poured into the Assembly in opposition. A half-page ad was published in her hometown newspaper and a postcard mailing paid for by animal lovers reached every household in her hometown. Her Facebook page was flooded with comments in opposition (before she began banning and deleting those who disagreed with her; once again showing her true reactionary and undemocratic colors). But more than that, her desire to become the County Executive of Westchester which, at one point, was considered a done deal is now an open question because of the controversy. And Paulin is committed to making New Yorkers who questioned her pay.

Though her tenure will be largely forgotten, her effort to thwart meaningful shelter reform and to allow shelters to kill animals in the face of a rescue alternative will not be. Paulin’s effort to do so by introducing a competing bill that codifies the status quo (and initially sought to increase the power of shelters to kill animals) will be memorialized in my upcoming fourth book, Friendly Fire. Exploring the historical, psychological and financial motivations behind the unlikely support abusive, kill shelters receive from groups like the ASPCA, Friendly Fire answers the question, Why?

Why did organizations which were supposed to have been founded on the highest ideals of compassion became the biggest defenders of the animal abuse and killing which occurs daily in our nation’s so-called “shelters.” It also discusses the tactics, proxies, and puppets they use to do so. Proxies and puppets like Amy Paulin who are willing to trump true reform in deference to these organizations, even if it means the continued killing of savable animals in shelters who have an immediate place to go. That is what people will remember of her. And the unconscionable and tragic cost-benefit analysis that she employed, when she came to the conclusion that a pen and a pen certificate were worth more than the lives of 25,000 animals a year.

Learn more:

What You Can Do:

  • If – and ONLY if – you are a New York resident, please contact NYS Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and ask him not to allow this bill to reach the Assembly floor. There is text provided for you, but as always adding your own heartfelt and polite message is always more effective:
  • If – and ONLY if – you are a New York resident, please contact the cosponsors of the bill and ask them to withdraw their support. Once again, text has been provided, but as always adding your own heartfelt and polite message is helpful. These sponsors are not necessarily the enemy; most are merely uninformed as to the true intent of this legislation:
  • No matter where you live, let her know how you feel:

Send Amy Paulin a Pen!

When a dog resource-guards something, like toys, we respond by flooding the dog with toys, so he can realize they exist in abundance and that they aren’t so special. Since Amy Paulin is resource guarding pens and pen certificates, we need to flood her with them, so she can realize they aren’t so special, too. Certainly, they aren’t worth the lives of 25,000 animals a year who are being killed in NYS shelters despite rescue groups ready, willing, and able to save them. Send Amy Paulin a pen. Simply stick it in an envelope and mail it to her office. If you send a note with the pen, BE POLITE!

Assemblywoman Amy Paulin
700 White Plains Road Suite 252
Scarsdale, NY 10583

For Further Reading:

Amy Paulin Revives the Quick Kill Bill

A Most Dangerous Precedent

Bill Bad for Animals