Animal Cruelty Legislation
The New York Senate passed measures aimed at bolstering animal protection. Under one measure, the maximum penalties for aggravated animal cruelty would increase from two years in prison and a $5,000 fine to four years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
It was part of the annual Animal Advocacy Day on Tuesday, which brought a pony, dogs, and captive fowl to the Capitol building for a day of outreach.
“It’s hard to read a newspaper, watch the news or go on social media and not learn of yet another disturbing case of animal cruelty and neglect,” said Sen. Tedisco, co-chair of Animal Advocacy Day. “While we’ve made great strides in protecting our four-legged friends since the passage of the landmark Buster’s Law in 1999, there are still many miles to go in New York state to protect our pets and keep people safe.
“Animal cruelty is a bridge crime on the FBI criminal profile and those who are so dastardly as to harm our pets can and often do go on to hurt humans,” Tedisco added. “Animal Advocacy Day matters because it’s about more than just protecting our four-legged friends, it’s about keeping people safe.”
The Senate passed the following:
Prohibiting violators of “Buster’s Law” from having a companion animal: Bill S2501, sponsored by Senator James Tedisco (R-C-I-Reform, Glenville), would prohibit a person convicted of “Buster’s Law” from owning or possessing a companion animal unless authorized by court order, after appropriate psychiatric or psychological testing. Requiring a psychiatric evaluation will help identify behavior problems and ensure more animals are not abused, the sponsor states.
Increasing the penalty for multiple convictions of animal cruelty: Bill S299, sponsored by Senator Terrence Murphy (R-C-I, Yorktown), would increase the penalty for multiple convictions of torturing, killing or failing to provide sustenance to an animal to a felony, if convicted within five years from the date of a prior conviction.
Requiring more inspections for pet dealers: Bill S302, sponsored by Senator Murphy, provides for more frequent inspections of pet dealers which have been charged with or convicted of violations relating to cats and dogs. It requires the Department of Agriculture and Markets, upon the filing of a charge against a pet dealer, to immediately inspect the premises and continue to inspect the premises every two weeks until a final disposition of the charges. The state would require quarterly inspections of convicted pet dealers.
Designating animal fighting as an enterprise-crime-eligible offense: Bill S594, sponsored by Senator Boyle, would define animal fighting as a criminal act when referring to enterprise corruption. Boyle adds by making animal fighting an enterprise-crime-eligible offense, law enforcement, and prosecutors will have more tools available to combat this serious problem.
Expanding tools available to stop animal fighting: Bill S611, sponsored by Senator Boyle, places animal fighting on a list of crimes eligible to seek a warrant to conduct electronic eavesdropping or video surveillance.
Preventing animal abusers from working at animal shelters: Bill S2937, sponsored by Senator Patrick M. Gallivan (R-C-I, Elma), prohibits persons convicted of animal cruelty from being a dog or animal control officer, or working at an animal shelter, pound, humane society, animal protective association, or Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Improving shelter care for dogs: Bill S5515, sponsored by Senator Gallivan, would require impounding organizations to examine the animal and provide care and treatment to relieve pain and suffering, including necessary emergency veterinary care and treatment, parasite control, and appropriate vaccinations. The impounding organization must also provide proper shelter, food, and potable water.
Reducing holding time for the adoption of stray cats: Bill S177B, sponsored by Senator Marchione, would allow a duly incorporated Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Humane Society, or any municipal pound to put unidentified, stray cats who have been examined by a veterinarian up for adoption after 3 days. Cutting the holding time from 5 to 3 days will help reduce the spread of diseases.
Increasing the fine for abandoning an animal: Bill S1137, sponsored by Senator Carl L. Marcellino (R, Syosset), would increase the fine for animal abandonment from $1,000 to $2,000.
Establishing an income tax credit for owners of service dogs: Bill S5938A, sponsored by Senator Robert Ortt (R-C-I, North Tonawanda), would establish an income tax credit of up to $1,000 for the owners of service dogs. A service dog is defined as a dog that is a service, guide, hearing, or seeing, or is under the control of the person using or training the to do work or perform tasks to benefit an individual with a disability.
Also passed is S1712. Sponsored by Senator Tedisco, this bill increases certain penalties for violating the prohibition of animal fighting and for aggravated cruelty to animals.
The Senate already passed this year:
Kirby & Quigley’s Law: Bill S1680, sponsored by Senator Tedisco, would expand the definition of aggravated cruelty to animals to include harm to companion animals during the commission of a felony. Violating this measure would be punishable by two years in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Extending orders of protection to pets of victims of domestic abuse: Bill S2167, sponsored by Senator Serino, would give the court discretion to forbid contact between the abuser and any pet that is cared for by a victim.
Exempting dog license fees for deployed active military members’ dogs: Bill S839, sponsored by Senator Rich Funke (R-C-I, Fairport), would allow municipalities the option to waive a licensing fee for an active military member’s dog when they are deployed.
Enacting the Elephant Protection Act: Bill S2098A, sponsored by Senator Murphy, would prohibit the use of elephants in entertainment acts.
Establishing March 13 as “K9 Veterans Day”: Bill S216, sponsored by Senator Marchione, designates March 13 of each year as “K9 Veterans Day” in NY.
The 2017-2018 state budget includes $5 million for the creation of a Companion Animal Capital Fund. It is a first of its kind fund that will provide humane societies, nonprofits, and municipal shelters with grants for capital projects through a competitive application process.
The state Assembly still has to vote on the above measures.