Historic Vote Puts More Bite in First Animal Abuser Registry

Posted on May 11, 2011

Suffolk County, New York Adopts Law Requiring Checks to Prevent Animal Abusers from Purchasing, Adopting Pets

For immediate release

Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Megan Backus, Animal Legal Defense Fund

KittenHuntington, NY – The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) is applauding Suffolk County, New York for yesterday’s vote to require pet stores, breeders and animal shelters to determine if prospective pet owners appear on a registry of abusers before allowing the animals to be purchased or adopted. This measure gives even more teeth to a measure passed by Suffolk County lawmakers last October creating the world’s first animal abuser registry.

The law, sponsored by Legislative Majority Leader Jon Cooper (D-Lloyd Harbor) would require all pet stores, breeders and animal shelters operating in the County to ask for photo identification from prospective owners and adopters. They would then be mandated to check those names against the animal abuser registry created by Cooper last October. Exempt from Cooper’s law is the requirement to check names if the prospective buyer is purchasing feeder animals (which typically are mealworms, crickets or mice) for another pet. Penalties for any business or agency that violates Cooper’s law will be a $500 fine for the first offense, $1,000 for the second offense and $1,500 for all subsequent infractions.

Last year, working with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Cooper championed the ground-breaking legislation known as “Justin’s Law,” which became the world’s first public registry specifically devoted to those criminals who are convicted of abusing animals. Like Megan’s Law for child sex offenders, convicted animal abusers are required to register their names, aliases, addresses and submit their photograph for inclusion in a publicly accessible database. More information on ALDF’s national campaign to promote animal abuser registries across the country can be found at www.ExposeAnimalAbusers.org.

"This common-sense resolution is a crucial companion to Suffolk County’s new animal abuser registry and will help save countless animals from getting into the hands of convicted abusers," said Stephan Otto, attorney and director of legislative affairs for ALDF. "We salute Legislator Cooper for his leadership on this resolution, and are extremely grateful to all the other legislators who voted to protect those animals who are the most vulnerable in Suffolk County." 

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