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The Times
  • OUR VIEW: Toughen animal abuse laws

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  • A Central New York assemblyman is pushing hard for tougher animal abuse laws. Now he needs to convince his Albany colleagues that stronger laws are needed. And you need to help.
    Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi has been a staunch advocate for tougher laws. He co-sponsored a bill in the last legislative session that would have toughened penalties for abuse and animal cruelty, but it never came to a vote. Brindisi said some legislators believed the increased penalties were too stiff.
    Maybe if opponents had attended a Central New York forum at Mohawk Valley Community College they'd change their minds. Examples of animal abuse were quite disturbing — a puppy tied to a tree and set on fire, a severely malnourished horse, a dog that had to have a chain surgically removed from its neck.
    Similar abuse stories have been seen in the Rochester-Finger Lakes region as well.
    Those attending the forum discussed the need for stricter laws. They also agreed that those laws should be moved from Agriculture and Markets to New York State Penal Law so they can be better enforced.
    Brindisi said a recent study shows that New York ranks 42nd out of 50 for strength of its animal protection laws. One of the problems, he said, is that the laws are antiquated — written half a century ago. Another problem is that police — generally the ones called to make arrests in abuse cases — aren't trained in Agriculture and Markets, but they are familiar with the Penal Law. Moving the laws under that umbrella could help.
    Brindisi's legislation remains in the Assembly, and hopefully it will come up in the new session, which begins this month. The new year is the time to act. People who abuse animals often go on to abuse spouses and children, research shows. Toughening animal abuse laws can help short-circuit this by getting these sick individuals help before things get worse
    Help Brindisi get his legislation passed by contacting Albany lawmakers and urging them to approve it.

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