City Councilman Peter Vallone hopes to have an animal abuser registry bill enacted by this winter. If the registry is instituted, New York City will join Suffolk County, Rockland County and Albany, as the fourth and largest place in the US to take this significant step toward animal protection. The Suffolk County registry is generally used as the model for such proposals nationwide.
Anyone convicted of animal abuse, with crimes including animal fighting, malnourishment, aggravated cruelty or abandonment, would be placed onto the registry and banned from owning or possessing animals. Vallone explained, “The list would be provided to animal shelters and pet stores and you would be banned from owning an animal. If you did it would be a misdemeanor punishable up to a year in jail.” Violation of the registry terms by offenders could also bring a $1,000 fine.
The city’s health department, which oversees animal control operations, would administer the registry. Unlike sex offender registries that post information publicly online, the animal abuser list would only be made available by the city to law enforcement agencies, humane societies, pet stores and animal shelters. Sharing the list will not be prohibited, however, and Councilman Vallone hopes that private organizations with access to the information will post it publicly. Public posting of the list can help residents become aware of convicted abusers in their neighborhoods.
The New York State Senate passed its version of a registry bill earlier this year; the Assembly bill, sponsored by Assembly member and animal advocate James Tedisco, will be considered by the Agriculture Committee.
Not surprisingly, the outcome of Councilman Vallone’s bill is of great interest to animal advocates nationwide.