A plan to start a registry of convicted animal abusers in Oneida County advanced through a legislative committee this week but not without questions.
The Board of Legislators’ Health and Human Services Committee passed the proposal on to the full board Wednesday. The measure would establish an website similar to that of sex offenders, with offender’s names, residence, birth dates, photo and a description of the offense and the sentence. Animal shelters and pet sellers would be able to check it to help reduce the chances of putting animals into the hands of known abusers.
Failure to register or owning an animal after an animal-abuse conviction could result in a misdemeanor charge and a fine of up to $5,000 or a year in jail. So could knowingly selling or adopting an animal to an offender.
Exceptions would be made for service animals, as defined by state and federal law, or someone who uses one and lives at the same address as an offender.
A current or previously registered abuser convicted of a subsequent abuse would be put on the registry for life following a second conviction, including any in a county that maintains a registry. When a new conviction is made by any court in the county, the offender’s name is to be sent by the Sheriff’s Office to other law enforcement agencies in the state, including animal control agencies, and to animal shelters, pet sellers, animal-welfare organizations and other related groups.
Authorities expect only a few offenders would be listed as cases are rare. Albany County’s registry has only about five offenders listed, and there are only about 25 in all of New York City, Sheriff Rob Maciol told the committee. Those convicted would be charged a $125 fee to cover administrative costs.
Maciol said livestock auction operations can be among those specifically notified when someone is convicted of animal abuse.
Legislator Michael Brown, Dist. 12 of Rome, asked how the plan would affect hoarders. If animals are not being cared for, the case would be covered, Maciol said. Legislator Keith Schiebel, Dist. 1 of Vernon, Verona and Sherrill, asked about the effects on livestock farming. Maciol said law enforcement personnel typically understand the different standards regarding pets and livestock. “If there’s a farmer abusing an animal, that would be charged accordingly,” he said.