In a first, the New York Senate has passed a bill that would require that convicted animal abusers — just like convicted sex offenders — register as such with the division of criminal justice services. Even more, 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.
Under the bill, the names and addresses of convicted animal abuses in New York would be made readily accessible to the public. Those involved in the sale and adoption of animals would be able to check the registry before allowing someone to own an animal.
Animal cruelty has been a felony in New York since 1999 when Buster’s Law was passed. Buster was a cat in Schenectady in upstate New York who was doused with kerosene and set on fire in 1997. The law bearing his name was created to ensure that those who commit such crimes are convicted. The new law (S2305A-2013) takes things a step further by creating the registry.
Persons who commit crimes against animals represent some of the worst kind of people, and often expand their carnage to their neighbors and the larger community. Most people can agree that the level of respect and kindness shown for animals — creatures who cannot speak for themselves, or protect themselves and are easily abused and taken advantage of — is a fine predictor of how a person will treat their peers.
Just as Megan’s Law was created to protect children from repeated sex offenders, Ball’s bill will protect animals from repeat animal abusers — from (again, quoting Patterson) “violent and cruel behavior” that “cannot and should not be tolerated.”
Alice Calabrese, the CEO of Lollypop Farm and the Humane Society of Greater Rochester, says that there is a “high recidivism rate” among those who abuse animals, and that the registry is more than needed. Her organization receives about 1,200 calls about animal cruelty every year.
Ball’s bill is now being sent to the New York Assembly where it is being sponsored by Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, who was the driving force behind the sponsorship of Buster’s Law. Noting that we have “expanded the DNA database to help catch criminals and exonerate the innocent,” Tedisco underscores that we “now we have an opportunity to advance additional public safety measures including protecting our pets from abuse and ensuring animal abusers don’t go on to hurt people.”
Michigan is also considering creating a registry of animal abusers, as have other states (including California). However, a bill to create such a registry in Maryland last year failed. Now that New York is on the verge of creating a registry of animal abusers, it really is up to the other 49 states to follow suit and do the right thing, as Michelle Gwynn writes.
As Tedisco says, creating the registry of those convicted under Buster’s Law means that ”all members of the family” are protected. If all states had such a registry, the next step could be a national registry of animal abusers in order for states to share information, and so that we can best protect “who cannot speak for themselves.”
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