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Stricter animal cruelty laws to be reintroduced to the state legislature

By ANNA MEILER

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) -- After several recent cases of animal abuse, many community members are asking why there aren't stricter animal cruelty laws.

"You're certainly seeing more and more instances of animal abuse on a daily and weekly basis," said Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi - (D) 119th District.

Brindisi is a co-sponsor of a bill that would move animal cruelty laws from the Agriculture and Markets Law to the Penal Law.

"The problem that we have with the animal cruelty laws is because a lot of them were written a long time ago, some over 50 years ago. Many judges and lawyers just don't consider them real crimes because they're not found in the Penal Law," said Brindisi.

If the laws are moved to the Penal Law, some misdemeanors will become felonies and there will be harsher penalties, including more jail time.

"The courts and the police understand Penal Law much better than they do Agriculture and Markets Law, so really it's just updating the existing law so the proper penalties can be applied in these kinds of cases," said Brindisi.

It was proposed at the start of 2012, but the bill didn't get a sponsor in the Senate and never gained traction.

"There's some that feel the penalties are a little too severe. There are some in the agricultural community who feel it could target livestock and those kinds of animals," said Brindisi.

The New York Farm Bureau sent a statement saying they support stricter penalties for aggravated acts of animal cruelty but, "As it relates to farm animals, we believe the Department of Agriculture and Markets in conjunction with the expertise of State Veterinarians should define those."

Brindisi hopes to define these animals as domestic and help take the bill forward.

"The next step for the bill is it will be reintroduced again in January when we go back into legislative session.  We're going to work with any of the groups that feel that they have some problems with the bill. But really the goal of the bill is to make sure that if somebody is convicted of animal cruelty against a companion animal that the proper penalty is applied to that person and hopefully, the point is to deter this kind of behavior going forward," he said.

Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi and Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara said if you support the bill moving forward it's important to make your voice heard. They suggest writing or calling your state legislator.

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