By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
In one last slap at the departed Bloomberg Administration, a City Council committee voted Wednesday to recommend that the full Council override a mayoral veto on fighting animal abuse.
Late last year, Michael Bloomberg vetoed legislation that would have created an animal abuser registry, similar to the sex offender registry required under state law.
In a unanimous vote on Jan. 29, the council’s Committee on Health, chaired by Councilman Corey Johnson (D-West Side), slapped down Bloomberg’s veto.
Councilman Vincent Gentile, who supported the override, said the registry is needed if the city is serious about stopping people from being cruel to animals.
“If a society is judged based upon how it treats its most vulnerable, then this bill is a giant leap in the right direction,” said Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-parts of Bensonhurst), one of the original bill’s co-sponsors.
“This law will effectively create a registry listing anyone who has been convicted of animal abuse or cruelty and all persons included on this registry would be prohibited from owning an animal,” Gentile said.
OneGreenplant.org reported that the new electronic registry would require anyone convicted of animal abuse, including physical abuse, abandonment, or promoting animal fighting, to register on the list. First time offenders will be required to stay on the list for five years. If convicted abusers are caught with an animal again, they can tossed in jail for up to one year and hit with a $1,000 fine.
The registry would be made available in electronic form to all 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.
The bill, sponsored by then-councilman Peter Vallone Jr., was approved by the council in September. In one of his last acts as mayor in December, Bloomberg vetoed a series of bills the council has passed, including the animal registry legislation. Bloomberg argued that the bill was wasteful and that it wasn’t needed since the city already had animal protection measures in place.
But the city needed to take more stringent action and an animal abuser registry is the way to do it, according to Gentile.
“There are many reasons we should be concerned about the whereabouts of animal abusers. In story after disturbing story, abusers repeat their violent crimes against helpless animals, and have a proclivity to become violent towards people as well. This animal abuse registry will help keep our animals and our families safe,” Gentile said.
“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,” Gentile said.
Politicker reported that the animal abuser registry was one of three Bloomberg vetos that various council committees moved to override in the space of a week. The council also moved to override the former mayor’s vetoes of bills to have the New York Police Department regularly release statistics on the number of hit-run accidents on city streets and statistics on crime in parks.
“These are bills that the council felt very strongly about passing and I was happy to help override the veto in the Health Committee today,” Johnson told Politicker.