Some New York State lawmakers recently were “getting the bird” as well as dogs, cats, snakes and lizards and they were all smiles about it.

Rescue organizations and others with their feathered, furred and scaled friends in tow lobbied legislators as part of Animal Advocacy Day in Albany.

In addition to visits by dozens of animals for fuzzy photo-ops, the State Senate passed a package of bills cracking down on abuse, theft of companion animals and animal fighting.  Among the measures: eliminating the practice of leasing dogs and cats to people who cannot always afford to properly care for a pet which many times ends up costing people more money and/or putting animals in jeopardy.  Another bill strengthens penalties for violators of “Buster’s Law” that prohibits convicted abusers from owning a companion animal unless authorized by a court.  Senators have forwarded legislation doubling the fine for animal abandonment from $1,000 to $2,000, increasing the penalty for animal cruelty and measures to make it easier for pet owners to evacuate during an emergency.

And, pending final approval, New York could also exempt dog license fees for deployed active military members’ dogs and celebrate March 13th as K9 Veterans Day.