Legislator Jon Cooper Wraps Up National Justice for Animals WeekPosted by Legislator Jon Cooper on February 25th, 2011
I hope you enjoyed my blog posting earlier this week explaining how I first got involved in protecting animals' rights as a teenager more than 40 years ago. Like I said, the sting from being betrayed during my campaign to outlaw steel-jaw leghold traps ALMOST kept me out of politics, but I’m glad it didn’t. That’s because I’ve been lucky to help so many people (and pets) during my 11 years as a county legislator here on Long Island. But by far, from an animal rights perspective, no single legislative accomplishment has filled me with such gratification as the unanimous adoption of my animal abuser registry (also known as “Justin’s Law”). Speaking of Justin, I’m glad that SPCA officer Regina Benfante, Justin’s “adoptive mom,” was also able to post a blog update on well he’s doing these days.
The registry is scheduled to go into effect on May 23rd, but since my law applies prospectively, it may be several weeks or months before the first convicted animal abusers will begin to appear on the website. Even though it will take a while for the effects of the registry to ramp up, that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped my efforts to protect animals. To give the registry some teeth, I’ve also introduced a measure that would require pet stores, animal shelters and breeders to check prospective pet buyers and adopters against the registry, and would prohibit convicted abusers from acquiring a new potential victim. I’m confident that this one-two punch (the registry and mandated checks) will really take a BITE out of animal crimes (my apologies to McGruff the crime dog).
While I’m excited about how these ongoing efforts will reduce animal crimes here on Long Island, I’m thrilled that adoption of the registry here in Suffolk County has spurred on similar efforts all over the country. My friends at the ALDF tell me that, to date, 20 animal abuser registry bills have been introduced in a number of different municipalities and states. That really speaks not only to our hard work here but also to the great work of the ALDF. I know that Stephan Otto, ALDF’s director of legislative affairs, has been working tirelessly with groups in all of these states to replicate our success here in Suffolk. Kudos to Stephan, Lisa Franzetta and the entire team at the ALDF for their hard work on this and all other animal rights issues.
Now I’m going to challenge the ALDF to make lightning strike again, because this isn’t the last of my efforts to protect pets. I’m excited to announce that I’ll shortly be introducing legislation to ban the retail sale of puppies here in Suffolk County, in an effort to deal with the scourge of puppy mills. Getting this law adopted will certainly be a real challenge, but very often it’s the challenges we face that make life worthwhile.