The Nassau County Legislature approved legislation last week to prevent residents found guilty of animal cruelty from becoming repeat pet owners.
A law, passed unanimously by the Legislature on May 21 requires Nassau County residents convicted of animal abuse crimes to register their name and residence to an online registry that will be maintained by the Nassau County Police and the Nassau County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Once registered, they will be forbidden from purchasing or adopting animals in Nassau County for at least five years.
As of 2013, animal abuse registries exist in four counties statewide: Suffolk, Albany, Westchester and Rockland, according to the legislation. A similar registry was also passed by New York City in February.
From now on, anybody who purchases an animal from a public or private pet shelters, pet stores or pet breeders in Nassau County must submit their photo ID. The name and residence will then be crosschecked with the registry.
“Animal abuse will not be tolerated in Nassau County,” said County Executive Ed Mangano in a written statement.
“Statistically, there is a high rate of recidivism among people who are convicted of an animal abuse crime,” added Presiding Officer Gonsalves. “By creating this registry, we can better protect those helpless animals from being abused.”
The law applies to county residents 18 or older who are convicted of animal abuse crimes on or after the law’s adoption on May 21. Those who are found guilty of such a crime — which includes animal fighting, torture, failure to provide proper sustenance, abandonment and poisoning — must register within five days of their conviction, or they will be charged with a class A misdemeanor, and can be punished up to a year in jail or fined up to $1,000. A repeat offender will be put on the list for 10 years following their most recent conviction.
Animals included in the law are mammals, birds or reptiles, but not feeder animals, such as mice and fish.
The registry will be updated four times a year. Any person who is required to register must pay an annual fee of $100. The funds will be used to pay the administrative costs of maintaining the registry.
Animal shelters or pet dealers who violate the law will be fined $500 for a first offense, and $1,000 for a second offense. A third offense results in a maximum $1,500 fine.
The registry will be made available to any state, regional or national government-operated registry of animal abusers so information can be shared and disseminated.
Concerned members of the public will also be allowed to sign up for email notifications for updates and additions to the registry.