By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A bill the City Council approved at its last session of 2013 will go a long way toward protecting animals from abuse at the hands of heartless people, according to Councilman Vincent Gentile, who co-sponsored the animal-rights legislation.
Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) said the bill to create an animal abuse registry similar to the state’s sex offender registry will help prevent abusers from getting their hands on other animals.
“In story after disturbing story, abusers repeat their violent crimes against helpless animals, and have a proclivity to become violent towards people as well. The animal abuse registry will help keep our animals and our families safe,” Gentile said in a statement. “And by proper screening, animal rescuers and shelters can help make sure that animals who have often survived cruelty, neglect, or abandonment will find safe homes in which they will be treated with love and respect for the rest of their lives.”
Under the bill, which was approved by the council on Dec. 19, anyone convicted of animal abuse or animal cruelty would be required to register their name and address with authorities. The information would be kept on a data base. The convicted abuser would also be prohibited by law from owning another animal during the time they are on the registry.
The registry would be made available in electronic form to law enforcement agencies, district attorneys, humane societies, societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals, dog or cat protective associations, animal control officers, pet shops and animal shelters.
Animal shelters would be required to consult the registry to determine if a person seeking to adopt a pet is on the list.
Pet shop and animal supply store owners in Bay Ridge applauded the council’s action. “Is it a good bill? Absolutely!” said Ellen Morch of Animal Pantry, a pet supply store on 86th Street to the Brooklyn Eagle. “There are a lot of crazy people out there. They treat animals like they’re possessions; like a wallet or a lamp. It’s a living, breathing thing. If they’re cruel to an animal, the next thing you know, they’re abusive toward people.”
Examiner.com reported that anyone convicted of animal abuse or cruelty will remain on the registry for five years following their first offense and 10 years for any subsequent convictions. Anyone convicted of animal abuse who fails to report to the data base or who owns an animal while listed in the registry faces punishment of up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine, the website reported.
Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), the bill’s main sponsor, told the New York Daily News that he introduced the legislation because he believed the city needed to do more to ensure that animals were not falling into the hands of convicted abusers.
“We had a punk on Steinway Street who threw his dog out the window. There is nothing preventing him from going out tomorrow and getting a free animal out of the shelter,” Vallone told the Daily News.