What We Do

Our Focus

SALES OF DOGS AND CATS IN PET STORES
It is well-known by animal advocates and a growing number of legislators and members of the public that the majority of puppies and kittens sold in pet stores come from horrifically cruel puppy mills and kitten factories across the nation. Hundreds of thousands of dogs and cats are housed and bred at these substandard breeding facilities which mass-produce puppies and kittens and ship them to pet stores for sale to often unaware consumers.

According to USDA inspection reports and undercover investigations by animal welfare groups, puppy mills and kitten factories have sanitation problems leading to infectious disease, large numbers of animals overcrowded in cages with no exercise, lack of proper veterinary care for severe illnesses and injuries, lack of protection from harsh weather conditions, and lack of adequate food and water. These conditions result in great suffering to the animals, as well as sick or unhealthy animals sold to consumers.

As well, the sale of commercially bred dogs and cats in New York City pet stores contributes to pet overpopulation, leading to animal shelters funded by the City of New York and its taxpayers, and overloaded non-profit rescue groups, bearing the burden of caring for tens of thousands of unwanted animals per year, and resulting in many needless deaths.

Additionally, NYC residents purchase dogs and cats from pet stores whom the consumers believe to be healthy and genetically sound, but in reality, often face an array of health problems including communicable diseases or genetic disorders that often do not surface until several years later, all of which lead to severe financial and emotional distress to consumers.

In 2017, the untreated illnesses and inhumane treatment of dogs sold at Chelsea Kennel Club in Manhattan made headlines after exposure by The Humane Society of the United States undercover investigation. The public was outraged at such treatment, protests began outside the business, and the office of the NY State Attorney General began an investigation. Within several months Chelsea Kennels closed its doors.

Hundreds of cities across the United States have implemented regulations on the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores to address this unkind and unnecessary industry which involves cruelty from beginning to end: lives of misery for overbred mother dogs and cats, inhumane transport of puppies and kittens to pet stores, and the sale of sick and traumatized animals for exorbitant prices – all when tens of thousands of wonderful homeless animals of every breed are readily available yearly in shelters and rescue groups just waiting to be adopted. VFAR will be working on increasing pet store regulations so as to provide protection to animals, animal shelters, consumers and taxpayers of New York City.

DECLAWING
Declawing, or onychectomy, is a major surgical procedure involving multiple amputations of the last bone of each of your cat’s toes. It is not a surgery that removes just the nails, but in fact a complex surgery that is incredibly detrimental to felines and has been found to scientifically and ethically to be an unnecessary procedure.

According to the Washington State Vet Med Association, 50% of cats have immediate complications post surgery and 20% suffer from long-term problems. Declawing can cause serious physical problems such as pain in their paws, infections, tissue death, arthritis, loss of balance and back pain. It can also trigger behavioral issues such as aggression and/or inappropriate soiling. In addition, removing a cat’s defense mechanism puts not only the cat in harm’s way, but also endangers humans. Without the use of their claws, cats will revert to biting to defend themselves, which results in 1 in 3 patients being hospitalized and dangerously at risk of infection.

Contrary to popular belief, cat surrenders do not increase after a declaw ban is enacted. Shelter studies conducted by the Paw Project in 2015 showed that there were lower owner surrender cat intakes post legislation, reporting a 43% reduction, as opposed to the previous 5 years before the ban. House soiling and biting aggression are of the top reasons why cats are surrendered to shelters.

Alternatives to declawing are abundant and include, but are not limited to, keeping a cat’s claws trimmed, using scratching posts, and placing caps on their nails. Declawing has been banned in the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Brazil, Israel, Denver, CO, and several California cities. Let’s be the next city to ban the inhumane practice of declawing.

FOIE GRAS
Foie Gras, or fatty duck or goose liver, is produced with massive animal suffering. To enlarge the livers of ducks and geese, workers jam metal poles down the animals’ throats in order to feed them up to four pounds of food per day. This process, known as “gavage”, causes the birds’ livers to swell ten times their normal size.

Multiple undercover investigations of Hudson Valley Foie Gras (the only foie gras producer in New York) from organizations like Mercy For Animals and PETA show malicious animal torture including death from force-feeding, ducks hyperventilating as their unnaturally large livers pressed against their lungs, birds with open, bleeding wounds left to suffer in tiny wire cages without proper veterinary care, and fully conscious ducks being shackled upside down and having their throats cut open. One investigation found that a single worker was expected to force-feed 500 birds three times each day.

California has banned the sale of foie gras along with a dozen countries. Because of its cruelty, businesses like Costco, Safeway, Target, Giant Eagle, Whole Foods Market, and Wolfgang Puck have also refused to sell the diseased liver products. It’s time New York City take a stand and end their contribution to such an inhumane industry.

SLAUGHTERHOUSES
There are approximately 80 slaughterhouses and live markets in New York City, located in all five boroughs – more than any other U.S. city. These storefront abattoirs pose a significant health and safety hazard to the community. Blood, entrails, dismembered body parts, feathers, urine, and feces are normally found on our public sidewalks and streets due to the unsanitary conditions associated with the business of killing. They are a breeding ground for infectious diseases like avian influenza. Countless New Yorkers walk and roll strollers and wheelchairs through the filth every day, tracking bacteria and pathogens into their homes, around our city, and beyond. In 2012, Japan banned importation of all poultry from New York state following the discovery of two cases of low-pathogenic avian influenza detected at a Brooklyn live animal slaughter market. Many of these slaughterhouses are located dangerously close to schools and playgrounds.

Occasionally, animals manage to escape. Sometimes they are large animals like bulls, sheep, or goats, causing significant danger to nearby residents and potentially fatal accidents. In 2017, a toddler was mowed down in her stroller while an escaped bull ran through the streets of Brooklyn. Luckily, she sustained no serious injuries. But with the NYPD ill-equipped to handle these situations, we are all at risk, whether as pedestrians or drivers, when large animals are on the loose. In addition to the physical dangers, offensive odors and the screams of animals can be smelled and heard for blocks, negatively affecting all in the immediate area.

Due to these concerns, New York State enacted a law in 2008 which prohibits the licensing of any new slaughterhouse within 1,500 feet of a residence in New York City. This law must be renewed every four years, and thanks to Governor Cuomo and the New York legislature, it was renewed in 2012 and 2016.

VFAR proposes to introduce similar legislation at the city level to permanently ban the licensing of any new slaughterhouse operation within city limits. We look forward to working with the city council to improve the health and safety of our city. We believe that most New Yorkers would agree – slaughterhouses do not belong in our neighborhoods.

FUR
It’s no secret that the fur industry is brutal, violent, and unthinkably cruel. Fur farms breed and confine animals such as minks, foxes, rabbits, raccoon dogs, and chinchillas in tiny, filthy cages. These animals suffer intense stress. They are beaten, bludgeoned, anally or vaginally electrocuted, and often skinned alive. Trapping animals in the wild is horrific as well. Animals such as coyotes are trapped in cruel leg hold traps where they can suffer for days in excruciating pain and starving until the trapper returns to shoot or bludgeon them to death. Mother coyotes are known to attempt to chew off their own legs while trying to break free from the traps, desperate to get back to their young pups. Many other animals are unintentionally caught and killed in these traps, including household pets.

And yet, fur clothing and accessories are still seen on many people in New York during the winter months. New York can get quite cold, but there is never an excuse to contribute to such suffering when so many viable, stylish, and warm alternatives exist such as Vaute Couture, Hemp Hoodlamb, Wully Outerwear, Save The Duck, Noize, and more.

The animal rights movement in New York City has a renewed and energized focus against fur, fur trim, and cruel companies like Canada Goose. Activists regularly take to the streets in an effort to educate the public on the atrocities of the fur industry. What they have found is that many people are simply unaware. Once they learn of the cruelty, many people are horrified and reject the outdated fashion statement.

With public awareness and innovative alternatives on the rise, popular designers such as BCBG Max Azria, Gucci, Michael Kors, Gap Inc., and The North Face have stopped using all animal fur. Several countries – Norway, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom – have taken steps to close fur farms. West Hollywood and Berkeley, CA have enacted bans on the sale of fur and San Francisco is close to voting on the issue as well.

We would like to enact such a ban here in New York City. Imagine our great city truly living up to its reputation of being the most progressive city by taking a stand against status symbols of unnecessary cruelty.

PIGEON AND WILD BIRD NETTING
The extremely cruel Pennsylvania pigeon shooting contests are largely supplied with pigeons from the streets of New York City. Our beloved wildlife are painfully and illegally captured by hired guns of the pigeon shoot industry who prey on flocks of peaceful birds by throwing them seeds and then violently capturing them in a huge net that clamps shut in seconds, often breaking their legs or wings. These birds are then driven to be sold for use in the last-remaining pigeon shoots in PA. Even though this capturing of pigeons and other wild birds in NYC is illegal, the current laws provide only for a violation – similar to a traffic ticket. These weak laws, which are also very murkily-written, make it extremely difficult for the NYPD Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad and other members of the NYPD to make meaningful arrests. VFAR will work to increase the level of this already illegal and sadistic activity to a misdemeanor which would finally stop the turnstile cycle of bird netters paying fines and cruelly netting pigeons the very next day. This could ultimately help bring an end to the horrific PA pigeon shoots once and for all and keep NYC’s wildlife safe.

Our Work

-Voter registration
-Issue advocacy
-Candidate endorsements