Proposed N.Y. Bill would Create Abuser Registry

Erie County would become the fourth New York county to establish a registry for convicted animal abusers if a bill now pending in the county legislature becomes law. In 2011 lawmakers in Suffolk, Albany, and Rockland counties passed laws requiring individuals convicted of animal cruelty crimes to submit their names, including aliases, addresses, and a photograph, for inclusion in databases operated in those New York counties.

Under a bill sponsored by Erie County Legislator Terrence D. McCracken and introduced into the County Legislature on March 29, those convicted of animal cruelty crimes in Erie County would be required within 30 days of conviction to submit their names, residential addresses, birthdates, facial photos, and conviction dates for inclusion in a countywide database. The information would remain in the database for five years, and information about repeat offenders would remain in the registry for an additional 10 years, the bill says. Under the bill, those convicted of animal cruelty crimes would also be prohibited from purchasing, adopting, or otherwise exercising control of an animal while on the registry list, McCracken said.

According to the bill, those who fail to register or update personal information annually could face a fine of up to $500; those who acquire an animal while on the registry would face a fine up to $1,000; and anyone who sells or places an animal with anyone on the registry list would also face a fine up to $1,000.

"Acts of animal cruelty in Erie County, western New York, and across the state and country occur much too frequently, and I believe that this local law can be one of the weapons fighting this crime and the repeated violations by some offenders," McCracken said.

The bill remains pending.

Meanwhile, a bill intended to create a statewide registry for those convicted of animal abuse in Maryland has failed. HB 1020 and its Senate companion bill, SB 301 would have required those convicted of animal cruelty crimes anywhere in the state to submit their names, addresses, and photographs for inclusion in an online database. The legislation would also have prohibited owners or operators of pet stores and animal shelters from selling or otherwise placing animals with an individual listed on the registry.

The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, a national trade organization representing the pet industry, opposed the legislation on grounds that it would impose excessive burdens on pet dealers and would be detrimental to small businesses without the financial resources to comply with provisions contained in the bills.

On March 21, HB1020 was withdrawn from the Maryland House of Representatives Judiciary Committee. SB301 died in the State Senate's Judicial Proceedings Committee on March 26.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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