Empire State Humane Voters wants to build political power for animals.

The new, not-for-profit organization based in — you guessed it — New York State has a laser-focused purpose: to help create a government that protects animals in NY.

The plan? Elect candidates who support animal protection, lobby for better laws against animal cruelty, and hold elected officials accountable for the way animals are treated.

“Our goal is to fill a glaring void in the animal protection movement for a political advocacy group that covers all animal issues on both the city and state level,” said ESHV Founder and Executive Director Allie Feldman Taylor. “There are so many animal issues that need political representation, and ESHV is empowered with the political savvy and animal law expertise to effectuate change for animals in New York.”

While the vast majority of animal protection organizations hold 501(c)(3) status with the federal government, ESHV is a 501(c)(4). This grants them unlimited political lobbying capability, whereas their counterparts have highly restrictive lobbying caps. ESHV also has the unique and powerful ability to endorse candidates for office who side with animals and vigorously oppose those who don’t. 

“Our team is comprised of animal law experts, organizers and of course, political animals,” said Taylor.

With the official launch party scheduled for May 11 at the studio of legendary artist Peter Max (and already sold out), ESHV is just getting started. But their first year is poised to be a big one, with seven open NY City Council seats.

“That means seven opportunities to elect people who will represent a range of animal protection issues in NYC — from store front slaughterhouses, to humane education in public schools, to the circus,” said Taylor. “We are also going to be making endorsements in District Attorney races, to ensure animals are better protected by the courts.”

Protecting New York’s Wildlife

One of the first issues on the agenda for ESHV is getting New York’s felony animal cruelty to laws to cover all animals — not just those whom humans consider companions.

“Right now New York State’s felony cruelty laws only apply to ‘companion animals’ (dogs, cats, or other domesticated animals) and exclude wild animals,” said Christine Mott, Esq., chair of ESHV’s board of directors. “This means that even the most heinous cruelty to wildlife is treated as a petty misdemeanor that carries little to no repercussions.”

This failure to extend felony status to crimes against “non-companion animals” has allowed horrific incidents — such as killing turtles with pipe bombs, and filming it for entertainment — to happen with no hope of true justice. ESHV wants to change this by supporting NYS A.5050/S.620, which ensures that wild animals are protected under New York’s anti-cruelty laws.

Ending Animal Cruelty in Entertainment

ESHV also supports NYC Intro. 1233, a bill to prohibit the use of wild or exotic animals in circuses and other public entertainment. 

Behind the curtains, animals forced into lives of entertaining humans endure a world of suffering. “The elephants, tigers and other wild animals commonly used in circuses are beaten into submission,” said Mott. “Trainers use bullhooks, whips, electrical shock, and other devices to turn wild animals into unwilling performers. During the off season, animals such as lions and elephants are cramped into cages, stalls, and even trucks.”

Intro 1233 doesn’t just protect animals — it protects humans, too. Not only can these animals spread diseases like tuberculosis, but life in confinement paired with wild instincts can cause the animals to lash out at humans, endangering both trainers and spectators.

Take Action

Whether you live in New York or not, any citizen can help change laws to protect animals — no special training required.

“You don’t need to be a professional lobbyist to make a difference for animals,” said Mott. “By calling, writing to, or meeting with your local council representative or state legislator to advocate for animal protection measures, you are signaling to that elected official that you are serious about animal protection.”

There is power in numbers, Mott stressed. Communities that band together have a greater chance of effecting real change.

“If you live in New York, please ‘join our pack’ at www.eshv.org to get involved,” she added.  “Power to the paw!”

To learn more about ESHV and how to get involved, connect with them on their website, www.eshv.org, on their Facebook page, or on Twitter: @nyvoteshumane.