Suffolk County lawmakers are getting ruff with animal abusers as they propose new initiatives for animal protection including a county registry that will keep animals away from abusers.
Pet owners, animal rights advocates and even animals gathered outside the Suffolk County Legislature in Hauppauge on Thursday to join Majority Leader Jon Cooper (D-Lloyd Harbor) at he unleashed several animal protection bills. The main component is a database known as the Animal Abuser Registry, which will include the names of people who have been convicted of harmful treatment and torture to animals. Additional legislation would restrict those on the registry from adopting animals and prevent shelters or pet stores from letting those on the registry take a new pet home.
“All animal offenders will be on the database,” Cooper said. “I think this is information the public should be aware of.”
If the law passes, Suffolk County will be the first municipality in the nation to have an Animal Abuser Registry.
The bill will require pet stores and animal shelters to check an individual’s identify on the registry. If the shelters and pet stores do not follow the precautions they would face a fine for allowing an animal into the hands of a convicted animal abuser.
“It will probably be a searchable database,” said Cooper comparing it to the searchable database used to track sex offenders.
The registry would have no cost to taxpayers, he added. Offenders would be subject to pay an annual $50 fee to maintain the registry. The database would include the offender’s name, photo, address and aliases.
Individuals who are charged with animal abuse will be mandated to appear on the registry for five years following their conviction. If they do not register or abide by standards, they will be subject to a fine of $1,000 and/or up to a year in jail.
“We stand behind it 100 percent,” Suffolk County SPCA Chief Roy Gross said. “We offered to maintain the registry.”
According to Chief Gross, the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, investigates more than 2,000 cases a year.
“It will make the public more aware and report abusers,” said Virginia Apmann of Stony Brook, who was with her dog, Jeno, an ex-greyhound racer from a track in Florida.
Byron Logan, who works for the North Shore Animal League America, was holding and petting a recently rescued black lab mix puppy. He says her name is “puppy” and she is waiting to be adopted.
“We get our fare share,” said Logan about the number of abused and rescued animal they receive. “It is giving us a chance to get our pets into loving homes,” said Logan who has been with the rescue and adoption organization for five years.
North Shore Animal League America is the largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization in the world. Its headquarters are located in Port Washington.
Justin, a Doberman Pinscher mix, was found in an abandon house in Centereach in May and was also on hand at the legislator’s meeting. Suffolk County SPCA Sgt. Regina Benfante is Justin’s new mom. She responded to call with another officer and found the dog at a mere 17 lbs.
“I have never seen an animal that skinny,” Chief Gross said.
They decided to name him Justin because they found him just in time. He spent a week in the hospital and today he is a healthy 55 pounds.
“He is a lucky dog,” Sgt. Benfante said. “Some animals are unfortunately not so lucky. This would help protect those animals,” she added.
Currently, the Suffolk County SPCA is working on a case involving a pit bull that was found tortured and abandoned inside a plastic container on Brown Ave. in Amityville. Chief Gross said a couple was walking when they found the container. They opened it and found the dog inside.
The SPCA is searching for information regarding the case so they will be able to convict and make an arrest to the individual or individuals responsible for this act.