City Councilman Peter Vallone has proposed a bill that would create a database of people with a history of animal abuse in New York City.
Animal abusers would be required to register with police officials who would create a citywide database accessible to the public and its communities. The bill would also ban any convicted animal abuser of owning or adopting another animal or risk fines and possible incarceration.
So far, New York is the only state in the country to have any
enacted registries, which are in Suffolk, Albany and Rockland counties. Other states have attempted to pass legislation but have been unsuccessful; largely because of the cost of creating and maintaining an ever-growing database of identities, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
New York has attempted to pass statewide bills in the past but has also been unable to place any of them into action.
The bill specifically targets people with records of animal abuse and attempts to prevent them from obtaining another pet.
“Obviously this law won’t stop the problem because abusers can get animals from many locations, but this will put another obstacle in their path and will put criminal sanctions for the first time on a criminal abuser possessing another animal,” Vallone said.
But some are concerned about the potential effects of the registry’s use.
“If done fairly, this could prevent animals from falling into the wrong hands,” said Jack Carone, the communications director of the non-profit animal rights organization called In Defense of Animals. “If misused, this could ruin lives unjustly. We caution that measures be taken to prevent misuse of such a registry if it is implemented.”
However, Vittoria Marcelli, 18, a pet owner in Brooklyn who adopted a dog after it was abused, supported the proposal.
“I think animal abusers should definitely be banned from owning a pet because even if they would claim to change, I feel that they can still abuse their pet out of anger if we reach a certain point,” Marcelli said.
Rosario Giarratana, a Stern sophomore and owner of two dogs, also believes the database has the potential to be beneficial.
“The database would definitely be a useful resource if I had to choose someone to watch my pets or if I was putting my pet up for adoption,” Giarratana said.
Vallone hopes to have a hearing before the New York City Department of Health and have the legislation passed this winter.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Sept. 25 print edition. Mitchell Kapoor is a contributing writer. Email him at email@example.com.
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