Historic Vote in Suffolk County, New York Creates Nation’s First Registry for Animal Abusers

Posted on October 8, 2010

1.5 Million New Yorkers and their Animals Will Have More Protection from Repeat Offenders

For immediate release:
October 12, 2010

Contacts:
Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Stephan Otto, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Paul Perillie, Majority Caucus Aide, Suffolk County

Suffolk County, NY–Today, Suffolk County lawmakers voted unanimously to create the nation’s first animal abuser registry, designed to keep convicted abusers away from animals. Sponsored by Majority Leader Jon Cooper (D-Lloyd Harbor), the new law will require 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. In addition to the registry, an accompanying resolution, scheduled  for a vote next month, would require animal shelters and those who sell animals to check an individual’s identity on the registry and prohibit them from adopting or selling to anyone found on it.

In February 2010, the national non-profit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) launched a national campaign to promote abuser registry legislation, and has worked with Legislator Jon Cooper’s office in support of the Suffolk County bill. The ALDF website ExposeAnimalAbusers.org  provides extensive information about registry bills, and allows concerned citizens to contact their own legislators in support of abuser registries. Such registries will help protect animals, pet guardians and communities by preventing repeat offenses from anyone with an established history of abusing animals. Registry bills have been introduced in six states, and legislators in more than a dozen states are currently considering supporting their introduction. The February launch of ALDF’s campaign took place in tandem with the announcement by California Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez that he was sponsoring an abuser registry bill for the Golden State.

“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,” says the law’s author, Majority Leader Jon Cooper.  “As was the case with my landmark bills that prohibited the use of hand-held cell phones while driving and banned the sale of the deadly dietary supplement ephedra, I hope that states across America will use our success as the impetus to enact similar laws. A society is judged by the way it treats those who are most vulnerable, and the creation of this registry sends a strong message that all of God’s creatures deserve protection from torture and abuse."

“In story after heartbreaking story, abusers repeat their violent crimes against helpless animals, and often go on to victimize people as well,” says Stephan Otto, ALDF’s director of legislative affairs. “Suffolk County residents and their four-legged companions can breathe a little easier today, as they celebrate this historic vote for animals.”

ALDF was founded in 1979 with the unique mission of protecting the lives and advancing interests of animals through the legal system. Visit www.aldf.org and www.ExposeAnimalAbusers.org.