A yellow lab adopted from the North Country SPCA
New York Sen. Greg Ball is asking animal lovers to sign a petition calling for a statewide animal cruelty registry.
The call for the petition followed the sentencing of an Albany resident who plead guilty to leaving three puppies on railroad tracks to die in 2013.
The man will be added to the Albany County animal abuse registry so that he will no longer be able to purchase or adopt a pet within the county.
Outside of Albany County, however, he is currently be able to adopt or purchase animals.
The state wide animal abuse registry was passed by the state Senate last year but failed to get through the Assembly.
“I voted last year in support of legislation expanding Buster’s Law and if it comes to the floor this year, will do so again,” Sen. Betty Little said.
The registry would contain the names and addresses of people convicted of violating Busters’s Law in New York State, allow easy access to the public and provide information to those involved in the sale or adoption of animals. Those who have been convicted of abusing and torturing animals would also have to undergo a required psychiatric evaluation and would be banned from ever owning pets again.
Although Buster’s Law currently only applies to individuals who have killed or caused serious injury to companion animals such as dogs, cats or other pets, there are several pending bills that would expand the law to protect all animals, including farm animals and wildlife as well as failure to feed, water and provide shelter to animals.
Essex County Sheriff Richard Cutting said there’s room for improvement within the proposed law.
“I agree in theory with the Animal Abuse Registry, however, as I understand this legislation, it applies only to those who have violated Buster’s Law,” he said. “This does not apply to farm animals and does not cover areas such as failure to feed, water and provide shelter for animals.
“We, as a society definitely need to provide better protection to our animal population,” Cutting said. “They deserve protection from malicious harm as well as neglect. This can be done by more comprehensive laws designed to punish offenders and make offenses carry more legal weight than the outdated and archaic laws that we have to deal with now.“
Another bill, the Consolidated Crime Bill, would cover all animals and move these crimes from the Agriculture and Markets statutes to the normal penal system, allowing harsher punishments for offenders.
The New York statutes within this law comprise the state’s anti-cruelty provisions. “Animal” includes every living creature except a human being.
“I understand the intent of the consolidated animal crimes bill, which is to bring more of the statutes currently in the agriculture law into the penal code,” Little said. “That would make enforcement clearer for the police and the courts. What I’m not sure of is how that could affect farmers who raise livestock for processing. Pet abuse, animal abduction, animal fights should all be in the penal law.”
Executive Director of the North Country SPCA and Essex County Animal Cruelty Task Force member Jessica Hartley said the registry would be a positive for the region and that the state needs to protect all animals.
“A state-wide animal abuse registry is certainly a step in the right direction toward addressing the issue of animal cruelty,” she said. “For the North Country SPCA and other animal welfare organizations, the registry would act as an additional safeguard to ensure that the animals we adopt out are being placed in loving homes.”
Hartley said the SPCA would support any legislation to expand the registry beyond just those convicted of violating Buster’s Law.
“Extending the registry to people who abuse farm animals and wildlife, as well as those who are guilty of neglecting their animals, would be far more effective in reducing the incidents of animal abuse in our communities,” she said.
Hartley said one of the most important things needed is education
“Continuing to educate people about the proper treatment and care of their animals will go a long way toward stopping the types of abuse and neglect cases that we see,” she said.
The majority of officials agree that the link between animal cruelty and other violent crimes is significant and by taking crimes against animals more seriously, law makers would also make strides toward increasing overall public safety.
Essex County District Attorney Kristy Sprague said cruelty laws are heading in the right direction.
“In Essex County, we’ve started an animal cruelty task force because of the need for not only public education, but also a need to amend the current Agriculture and Markets Law as they are antiquated and really provide no consistent sentencing guidelines that will prevent future ownership of animals in sever abuse cases,” she said.
Sprague also said that the New York State District Attorney’s Association just voted to support the consolidated crimes bill.
“We are urging citizens to reach out to their legislative representatives to urge them to support this bill,” she said.
Those wishing to sign the registry petition should visit: http://www.nysenate.gov/webform/petition-statewide-animal-abuse-registry