New York State Raises Fines For Cruel Horse Transport

New York Governor Pataki has signed into law Senate Bill 6332 introduced in March 1998 by Senator Kuhl, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. The bill raises the fines for violating New York State's Agriculture and Markets law, Section 359-a, the illegal transport of horses. The fines were raised from $100 to $250 for a first violation and from $500 to $1000 for a second conviction. The fines are per horse, per violation.

Another important change is the requirement for the courts to report convictions to the Department of Agriculture and Markets, enabling prosecutors and police to check for prior convictions. In the January 1998 Nickerson case, in an attempt to receive the smallest possible fine, the defendants told Broome County Assistant District Attorney Eichan that this was their first offense and they had no knowledge of the law. ADA Eichan learned from New York State Police and Essex County, New York ADA Debra Whitson that in fact Nickerson Livestock had another case pending in Essex County, NY and had been the company involved in the infamous "Syracuse 36" case that had drawn national attention on ESPN in 1995.

The law takes effect after November 1, 1998.

In recent months New York State Police have stepped up their enforcement of New York's horse transport law the strongest law in the country passed in 1981. The law makes it illegal to transport horses in a double deck trailer and requires other safety features in trailers transporting 6 or more horses.

The New York State Police have arrested "killer buyers" transporting horses from auction barns in Pennsylvania through New York State illegally to Canadian slaughterhouses. In the first case to be resolved the shipper chose to go to trial. David Carper, an agent for Frank Carper and Sons, Cranbury New Jersey was convicted in April 1994 on 110 counts and fined $11,100 in Essex County, N. Y. Kevin Nickerson, an agent for Nickerson Livestock, Bainbridge, New York also chose to go to trial in April 1998. He was convicted and paid the maximum fine of $3000.00. In the next two cases to be resolved, Arlow Kiehl, Watertown, New York pled guilty in June 1998 and paid fines of $500 and $2000 respectively. Currently, Nickerson Livestock has yet another case pending in Essex County, N. Y.

The next time these shippers are arrested before November 1998 the charge will be a misdemeanor with possible jail time and the fines will be $500 per horse per violation. After November 1, 1998, the fines will be $1000.00 per horse, per violation.

As Pennsylvania lawmakers decide whether to pass HB 2127, the Horse Transport Bill, and the USDA writes guidelines for the Commercial Transport of Horses to Slaughter Act, New York State will continue to reap the increased revenue from the cruel and inhumane transport of slaughterbound horses from Pennsylvania auctions through New York to Canadian slaughterhouses for human consumption overseas.

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