Animal-rights activists took a NYCLASS trip to Albany Wednesday, marking the rollout of an effort by the group -- best known for fighting the city's horse-carriage industry -- to increase the size of its political footprint.
As first reported in the Daily News this week, NYCLASS is broadening its agenda past the fight against the carriages.
The group is pushing state lawmakers to consider its checklist of anti-cruelty measures -- and warning that it's willing to spend money to support or oppose those who don't agree come election season.
While the group works hand-in-hand with other advocates, "The big difference is that NYCLASS can take our advocacy to the next level: Because we’re a 501(c)4, we are able to run advertisements and make endorsements," Feldman said.
"We can really leverage that to make sure our agenda is heard [and] animal rights aren’t largely ignored as they have been in the Senate and the Assembly for a long time."
Feldman said several hundred volunteers made the trip to the State Capitol -- about 75 of them from the city -- speaking with legislative staff about measures including banning "gestation crates" used to pen animals raised for food, fighting the ivory trade, and changing the way animal abuse is treated under New York law.
NYCLASS spent $174,000 in opposition to the mayoral bid of then-City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who didn't support a carriage ban, working under the aegis of a coalition called "New York City Is Not For Sale."
Feldman declined to say how much NYCLASS might spend in battles for state legislative seats.
But, she said -- insisting it wasn't meant to sound like a threat: "I think that any legislator who saw what we did in 2013 should be concerned when they see us coming up to Albany."
As a candidate, Mayor de Blasio supported NYCLASS in its efforts to get rid of the carriages, which they say put horses in danger and force them to live in substandard conditions, but the old-time conveyances roll on.
Supporters of the industry say it generates much-needed jobs and tourism dollars.
The full blueprint for the NYCLASS city agenda [can be read here]: NYCLASS Animal Protection 2014
Author: Celeste Katz