NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — State Assembly Member Micah Kellner is proposing a bill in the hopes of saving thousands of animals in shelters across New York from being euthanized.

Under current state law, shelters are only allowed to adopt dogs and cats out to individuals. Rescue groups are typically turned away and denied access to the shelters.

“How we get around this is we adopt it to the person coming from the rescue group and this allows shelters to have a great amount of power,” Kellner said.

The Companion Animal Access and Rescue Act would let these groups adopt animals that are scheduled to be euthanized from shelters, humane societies or pounds.

“There are tens of thousands animals in New York State shelters waiting to be adopted and most are healthy, well-behaved, and just in need of a loving home,” Kellner said.  “When a humane organization volunteers to take these animals, they should not be denied.”

California passed a similar law in 1998 which allowed animal rescue and adoption organizations request possession of an animal prior to its killing. Last year, Delaware passed a law that seeks to find sheltered animals homes rather than euthanize them.

“What this bill does is create minimum standards for rescue organizations and humane organizations to recover animals that would otherwise be destroyed by a local shelter,” Kellner said.

The bill would not only guarantee rescue groups access to shelters but it would also ensure that the animals receive proper care – including fresh food and water on a daily basis, clean living environments, exercise and veterinary care.

Routine inspections would be mandated under the bill.

In addition, the legislation would extend whistleblower protections to rescue groups who have frequently been denied access to shelters for speaking out against abuse or mismanagement or animals.

Organizations such as No Kill Advocacy Center, Alley Cat Allies and Best Friends Animal Society support the bill.

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