State Legislators Should Boost Animal Cruely Laws

Most reasonable people would agree that the abuse of animals is abhorrent behavior that shouldn’t be tolerated in decent society. They have a hard time understanding what possesses someone to hang a dog from a tree or to give animals shelter when they have no means to provide for them.

While we disagree with some tenets of the animal abuse registry created by the Chautauqua County Legislature earlier this year, we give credit to the legislature for doing something in the wake of a spate of animal abuse cases earlier this year. County Executive George Borrello and county legislators felt the need to do something, anything, to try to keep pets from the hands of people who would abuse them.

State legislators should do the same.

In May, Andrew Lanza, R-Staten Island, introduced legislation in the state Senate (S.8724) that would perhaps provide a deterrent to animal abusers. Lanza proposes moving animal cruelty laws from the state Agriculture and Markets law into the state Penal Code. The legislative justification for the legislation states the move of such laws from the Agriculture and Markets law to the Penal Law would better equip law enforcement officers to investigate animal crimes while also perhaps giving animal cruelty laws more weight in the eyes of the public. Lanza also proposes increasing the penalty for the crime aggravated animal cruelty to a Class D felony which can have jail time of up to seven years.

It’s too bad the state legislative session ended with Lanza’s legislation languishing in the Senate’s Code Committee. Companion legislation in the state Assembly was also referred to that chamber’s Codes Committee. They should become law.