ALBANY, N.Y. – Hundreds of advocates from across New York State where in Albany Wednesday to lobby legislators for Humane Lobby Day.
People rallied in the well of the Legislative Office Building to help get three bills passed.
One of the three bills voters are trying to get made into law is the Consolidated Animal Crimes Bill.
The bill would bring animal cruelty from the agriculture and markets laws into the penal code. It would also make police academy training mandatory throughout the state.
The Humane Society of the United States said enforcement of animal-related crimes is often hindered because the statutes in the Agriculture and Markets Law were created decades ago. They said the Consolidated Animal Crimes bill would modernize the penalties.
"Animal protection is a mainstream issue, and it goes across all walks of life, all types of people in our community from Belrose to Buffalo, New York," New York State Director of the Humane Society Brian Shapiro said. "People are here calling on their legislators to strengthen animal cruelty laws and to pass laws that create a more humane society."
The bill was drawn up in 2012 by Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice's office. It has yet to reach the floor.
Assistant District Attorney of Nassau County Jed Painter said the bill needs to be put shoulder-to-shoulder with other crimes so that law enforcement can do what it wants to do.
"There's property crime and sex crime and cyber crime and all sorts of crime," he said. "Animal crime is a legitimate category of crime, and it just needs to be treated as such."
Dr. Holly Cheever of the New York State Humane Association has lobbied in the Capital Region and was one of the 200 people in Albany Wednesday. She said animal cruelty and human violence are directly linked, so lawmakers could tackle two issues at the same time by passing the bill.
"If we can increase the ethicacy and the success rate of prosecuting animal crimes, we are in fact identifying some potential violent offenders down the line who might perpetrate human crimes as well," she said.
Advocates said the requiring of fingerprinting and DNA samplings of offenders on all animal crimes is the most important puzzle piece to the consolidated animal crimes bill.
Republican state Assemblyman Jim Tedisco was the driving force behind the passing of Buster's Law was not at Wednesday's rally, but said he's supports the goals of the bill.
Tedisco said in a statement, "First and foremost, what we need in New York is passage of a statewide registry that prevents [animal abusers] from adopting, buying and owning a pet ever again."
Tedisco has a similar proposal called the Animal Registry Bill. It passed the Senate twice but has not made it through the Assembly. While his bill has moved further along, others are confident of the Consolidated Animal Crimes bill's chances of becoming law as well.
"It's important for people to contact their legislators, their elected officials in Albany," Shapiro said. "Call on the phone, write letters, become involved because we're not going to have strong animal protection laws unless people engage and are not afraid to contact their legislators.
Shapiro said it may take a couple more years before the bill is passed into law.
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