By Kate Ramunni
NORTH HAVEN – For two years, North Haven First Selectman Michael Freda has been fighting for reforms in the state’s animal shelters.
First he led that fight as the co-chairman of the Humane Treatment of Animals Task Force during the 2015-16 fiscal year. He and other members from a variety of areas met monthly to come up with recommendations for reforming and improving the state’s animal shelters.
But that effort ended abruptly last spring when the state House of Representatives failed to act on legislation passed by the Senate to recertify the task force as an official state body, which in effect disbanded the group.
But Freda didn’t give up. He continued to hold monthly meetings of the group, even though it wasn’t officially state sanctioned, in the hope that this legislative session would see the task force officially recertified.
But Freda was again to be disappointed as the state budget crisis took over the thoughts and actions of the state legislature, with items like the animal welfare task force falling through the cracks.
But this time, Freda doesn’t have to operate without the state’s blessings. This week Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven), Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano (R-North Haven) and Representative David Yaccarino (R) North Haven, announced that Freda will continue to lead the legislative task force that is studying the humane treatment of animals in municipal and regional animal shelters.
“First Selectman Freda has served as chairman since the task force was established in 2014 pursuant to Public act 14-205, and he will be appointing the members of the task force in accordance with the membership criteria in the public act,” the lawmakers said in a release Wednesday.
“The task force has played an important role in facilitating discussions between advocates for animals, municipalities and members of the legislature,” they said. “Under Freda’s direction, members of the task force will continue to engage in discussions on how to improve care of animals at our municipal shelters and provided for the humane treatment of all animals in our communities.”
The task force is expected to focus on the following areas
— Recommendations for the establishment of standards for the humane treatment of animals in such shelters;
— existing education and training standards for animal control officers on current license laws;
— rules and regulations regarding and penalties for abuse;
— the development of a system to track persons who have been convicted of animal abuse in order to prevent such persons from acquiring animals from shelters in other municipalities or states;
— the establishment of standards for such shelters to use when evaluating potential adopters for such animals;
— the establishment of rules and responsibilities for volunteer groups that work with such shelters and animal control officers; and
–the creation of a framework to coordinate the efforts of local humane organizations with volunteer groups, foster groups and municipal and regional animal shelters.
“I am looking forward to continuing to work on this task force,” Freda said, “collaborating with many leading animal advocacy experts across the state in an effort to improve the lives of healthy and treatable animals in municipal shelters by providing them an opportunity to find a forever and loving home”.
Meetings will be held in the legislative office building beginning in August 2017. For more information about the task force, contact Freda at 203 239-5321 x760.