To combat incidents of violence against animals, Senator John J. Flanagan (2nd Senate District) today pushed for passage of his legislation that would enhance the penalties faced by animal abusers. Senator Flanagan was joined at the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals officein Smithtown by animal protection agents and local law enforcement officials for the announcement.
"Recent events have demonstrated that stronger penalties are necessary to deal with and prevent these types of crimes. Whether it is the neglect of animals or the outright abuse and torture of animals, this is a serious matter that must be dealt with accordingly," stated Senator Flanagan.
Last year, Senator Flanagan was successful in increasing the penalty for cruelty to animals to a class A misdemeanor. That change requires that those convicted of animal cruelty be photographed and fingerprinted to provide authorities with a complete record of their crimes. This change will ensure that previous convictions are given due consideration in the event of a repeat offense.
As the logical next step in protecting animals, the legislation that Senator Flanagan introduced today would utilize that new law by raising repeat animal cruelty to felony status. Under this legislation, any repeat conviction for cruelty to animals within a five year period would be considered a class E felony to enable the justice system to impose lengthier periods of imprisonment and court supervision.
"Senator Flanagan's proposal to charge individuals who in the prior five years were convicted of animal cruelty with a class E felony is a major step towards elevating the serious nature of crimes against animals," stated SCSPCA Chief Roy Gross. "This legislation will allow SPCA agents to actively enforce and district attorneys to vigorously prosecute these cases. The Suffolk SPCA wholeheartedly supports and endorses this piece of legislation and will work closely with the Senator to help gain passage of this legislation."
"This bill sends a strong message to animal abusers that animal cruelty is taken seriously in this state," said Sherry Ramsey,New York State Director for The Humane Society of the United States. "We applaud Senator Flanagan for authoring this important bill to properly protect animals from these repeat abusers."
Cruelty to animals includes failing to provide sustenance to an animal in their care, causing harm or death through abuse or overdriving or overloading an animal. Any act constituting cruelty is banned regardless of ownership, or lack thereof, of the animal abused.
The crime of animal cruelty has been shown to be a precursor to crimes against humans.According to the American Humane web site, a recentstudy demonstrated that violent offenders incarcerated in a maximum-security prison were significantly more likely than nonviolent offenders to have committed childhood acts of cruelty toward pets.
"The work of the SPCA and the Humane Society is critical in protecting these innocent animals.This is not a victimless crime, there are severe implications of future human abuse and we need to treat these abusers as the criminals they are," concluded Senator Flanagan. "This legislation is the obvious next move in protecting Long Island's animal population from abuse."
The bill is sponsored in the Assembly by Assemblymember Amy Paulin (88th Assembly District). This protection would go into effect on November 1st when passed.
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