Legislator Jon Cooper
Suffolk County Legislator Jon Cooper received a B.A. degree from Duke University in 1977. It was during his college years that he first demonstrated his commitment to animal rights. While an undergraduate at Duke, Jon became outraged at the use of steel-jaw leghold traps. That led him to form the National Committee for Humane Trapping, to spearhead statewide efforts in North Carolina to outlaw these torturous devices. After two years of effort, and despite the vehement opposition of the state’s powerful trapping lobby, some restrictions on trapping were ultimately enacted by the N.C. State Legislature.
Jon was elected legislator for the 18th district in Suffolk County, New York in November 1999. During his first term he secured passage of a Disaster Animal Rescue Plan to be implemented during emergencies to secure resources to shelter pets and other domesticated animals. He also authored the landmark Safe Pets and Families program, which created a network of safe havens for the pets of domestic violence victims who seek protection in shelters from their abusers.
In October 2010, Jon sponsored a landmark bill, passed unanimously by Suffolk County lawmakers, to create the nation’s first animal abuser registry. The new law requires adults living in Suffolk County (population over 1.5 million) who have been convicted of animal abuse crimes to register on an online registry for five years following their convictions. The Animal Legal Defense worked with Jon Cooper’s office in support of the Suffolk County bill. When asked about its passage Jon said, “I’m extremely proud that Suffolk County has established the nation's first animal abuser registry, and I applaud the ALDF for all their pioneering hard work on this important issue over the years.”
This past November, Jon was re-elected for a sixth consecutive term as Majority Leader of the Suffolk County Legislature. Even though he will be retiring from the Legislature in January 2012 because of mandatory term limits, that isn’t stopping Jon’s commitment to animals. He recently introduced a bill that will require pet stores, breeders and animal shelters to check the animal abuser registry prior to allowing an individual to purchase or adopt an animal. Later this year, Jon will be introducing legislation to ban the retail sale of puppies by pet stores in Suffolk County in an effort to deal with the scourge of puppy mills.
Since 1978, Jon has run Spectronics Corporation, a manufacturing company that is one of the 100 largest employers on Long Island. Jon and his husband, Robert, settled in Huntington in 1983. They adopted five children, who now range in age from 16- to 25-years-old. They also share their home with two dogs, two cockatiels and a cat.