BAY RIDGE — On Monday afternoon City Councilman Justin Brannan tweeted a skunk sighting. “Skunk amok in #Bay Ridge? I’m here for it,” the tweet read. Now Brooklyn’s favorite vegetarian lawmaker is turning his animal rights advocacy into legislation through a slate of animal rights bills.
Brannan introduced legislation to establish the first-ever Department of Animal Welfare at the City Council Stated Meeting. Currently, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) is solely responsible for all animal welfare in New York City.
The new department would oversee all animal shelters with the authority to issue and revoke a shelter’s business license. An appointed commissioner will head the department, which would have the authority to enter into contracts with animal shelters. The bill mandates the department prepares and submits reports on any businesses acting as an animal shelter.
The DOHMH will continue to work with the new animal welfare department to enforce animal sterilization laws.
“The Speaker and I know we need to work harder to make New York City a more humane city,” said Brannan. “With this package of legislation, we are making serious strides in that direction.”
Following the enactment, the mayor and Speaker Corey Johnson will appoint an 11-member Animal Welfare Advisory board. The board will advise the commissioner and suggest policy and legislative recommendations for the new department.
Separately, the slate of animal welfare bills also prohibits non-medical-related de-clawing and the sale of cats, dogs and rabbits by pet shops who source from mills. The latter of which is a take on a proposed state-wide bill State. Sen. Gianaris introduced.
While no skunk legislation was proposed, Brannan conjured the words of fellow vegetarian, Gandhi, to drive home his message.
“The activists who have tirelessly pushed for progress know this well, but it bears repeating, ‘the greatness of a society and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated,'” he said.