New York Senate Passes Domestic Animal Welfare Package

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(Image by Helena Sushitskaya from Pixabay)

The New York State Senate passed legislation this week to protect the rights and improve the health and safety of domestic animals across New York State. The bills advanced by the Senate Majority include legislation that will raise awareness of safety standards for domestic animals, increase the punishment for cruelty against animals, prohibit the declawing of cats, require the installation and testing of fire protection systems in pet stores, establish veterinary requirements for pet dealers and allow reporting of suspicious animal cruelty.

“Companion animals and pets provide us with love and affection, and for millions of New Yorkers they are members of the family,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “Protecting these animals from abuse, mistreatment and unsafe conditions is the right thing to do. The bills passed by the Senate Democratic Majority will help raise awareness of proper companion animal care and will also increase punishments for inhumane acts against domestic animals. As the new Senate Majority Leader, I was proud to create the Domestic Animal Welfare Committee and select Senator Monica Martinez as its chair, and this legislative package reinforces her leadership on this critical issue.”

The legislation being advanced by the Senate Majority to protect domestic animals includes:

  • Banning the Declawing of Cats: This bill, S.5532B, sponsored by Deputy Leader Senator Michael Gianaris, prohibits the performance of declawing procedures on cats.
  • Alert System for Pet Owners: This bill, S.4577, sponsored by Chair of Committee on Domestic Animal Welfare, Senator Monica Martinez, creates an alert system for pet owners requiring them to bring in their companion animals during extreme weather conditions.
  • Consecutive Sentencing for Multiple Accounts of Aggravated Cruelty Against Animals: This bill, S.5807, sponsored by Chair of Committee on Domestic Animal Welfare, Senator Monica Martinez, removes the 2-year limit to a term of imprisonment to allow consecutive sentencing when a person is convicted of multiple counts of aggravated cruelty towards animals.
  • Report of Suspicious Animal Cruelty: This bill, S.3415A, sponsored by Chair of Committee on Domestic Animal Welfare, Senator Monica Martinez, allows mandated reporters of child abuse to also report suspected animal abuse.
  • Eliminating the Word “Serious”: This bill, S.2723, sponsored by Senator Liz Krueger, removes the term “serious” in regards to a physically injured animal to ensure a perpetrator’s attempt to harm an animal is penalized appropriately despite the success of said assault.
  • Fire Protection Systems in Pet Stores: This bill, S.3078A, sponsored by Senator Joseph Addabbo, requires the installation and testing of fire protection systems in pet stores.
  • New Felony Level for Enterprise Animal Fighting: This bill, S.94, sponsored by Senator Kaminsky, introduces enterprise animal fighting as a new felony level offense, consolidates definitions, differentiates the levels of offense, adjusts penalty classifications, and provides consistency to the animal fighting laws.
  • Care Standards for Pet Dealers: This bill, S.3828, sponsored by Senator Jen Metzger, provides grooming, sanitation, and veterinary requirements for pet dealers.
  • Appropriate Shelter for Dogs: This bill, S.3559, sponsored by Senator Tim Kennedy, increases the penalties for failing to require appropriate shelter for dogs left outdoors.

There is a recognized connection between the abuse of household pets and abusive, aggressive behavior against other people. Animal abusers have been found to be five times as likely to also harm other humans. Additionally, a 2013 study found that 43 percent of those who commit school massacres also committed acts of cruelty to animals. To address domestic animal abuse and recognize it as a warning sign for more serious crimes, the Senate Democratic Majority created the Domestic Animal Welfare Committee and Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins selected Senator Martinez as its chair. Senator Martinez earned a reputation for leading efforts, as a member of the Suffolk County Legislature, to advance protections for domestic animals. The legislation passed by the Senate Democratic Majority builds on those efforts and will expand domestic animal protections throughout New York State.

Chair of Committee on Domestic Animal Welfare and Bill Sponsor Senator Monica Martinez said, “I am committed to elevating and uplifting the rights and protections of those who cannot advocate for themselves by implementing policies that ensure the safety of animals across New York State. By enacting a comprehensive package of animal welfare legislation, we are not only protecting animals, but also fostering a healthier community for all of us.”

Bill Sponsor, Senator Todd Kaminsky said, “Dog fighting is a billion-dollar illegal enterprise in the United States and our current laws are insufficient to deter perpetrators from the possible financial benefits. My legislation will introduce a new felony-level offense for enterprise animal fighting and ensure appropriate criminal liability for those who participate in the heinous activity of animal fighting on Long Island and across New York.”

Senator John Brooks said, “Our pets are members of our families. They provide us with love, security, and companionship and it is only fitting that we provide them with the legal protections they deserve. These bills passed here today will go a long way in keeping domestic animals safe from harm and neglect in NY State.”

Senator Kevin Thomas said, “Animal cruelty is a serious issue. When we protect the welfare of our pets, we make our communities safer for everyone. I commend my Senate colleagues for passing legislation to protect the rights and safety of our four-legged companions.”

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