UTICA, N.Y. -- Protecting animals from abuse isn’t easy in New York State. All animals fall under the Ag and Markets laws which haven’t been updated in years. State lawmakers have failed to update the laws to help domestic animals, but Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara talked about why County officials have had enough.
"If somebody walks up and kicks a dog, it is very hard to prove that that’s animal abuse. If they would change the law and address this issue, and there’s been a lot of legislation proposed, for whatever reason they choose to do all this other stuff that they’ve been doing, but they will not address what I consider a major problem in this State."
The County is proposing a registry that would identify animal abusers, and make their information publicly available, much like a sex registry. Anyone convicted of animal abuse would not be permitted to purchase or own any animals. Steven’s Swan Humane Society Manager John Treen explains why the registry would help animal shelters like his.
"It’s a great tool for us and other animal organizations to continually vet these people that come into the shelter and try to adopt or maybe even somebody that is getting an animal returned to owner. You know maybe their stray dog came in. You can go through that registry and check, are they actually supposed to be having these pets? Have they committed crimes in the past?"
One offense will get you on the registry for 15 years. A 2nd offense keeps you on the registry for life. There are also fines associated for those who fail to register within 5 days of their conviction, and those who re-offend. Oneida County Sheriff Rob Maciol says the registry should help to protect animals, but may also have an effect on humans.
"A lot of domestic violence offenders have a history of animal abuse, and certainly we see some extreme cases around the country where it began as animal abuse and led into other things."
If this legislation does pass, anyone convicted of animal abuse will have to register at the Oneida County Sheriff’s Department.