Tedisco, Padavan Introduce Buster's Bill II
|Bill closes potential loophole in landmark animal cruelty law|
Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco (R,C,I-Schenectady, Saratoga) and Senator Frank Padavan (R,C-Queens) today introduced Buster's Bill II which would make the harming of an animal in the commission of a crime a felony offense punishable by up to two years in prison.
Tedisco and Padavan came up with the idea for the bill in response to the recent discovery that puppies in Colombia were being used as drug mules. Ten puppies were rescued during a raid on a farm in Columbia, including six puppies that had 14 packets containing about 3 kilograms of liquid heroin surgically implanted into their stomachs. Three of the pups later died from infection after the drugs were removed.
According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, drug dealers used the puppies and other methods to conceal millions of dollars in heroin on commercial flights into New York City for distribution throughout the East Coast.
Tedisco was the author of the original Buster's Bill which was signed into law in 1999 creating the category of "aggravated cruelty to animals" punishable by up to two years in prison. Buster's Bill was named after an 18-month old tabby cat that was doused with kerosene and burned to death by a Schenectady teenager in 1997. Previous to Buster's Bill becoming law, animal cruelty resulted in misdemeanor charges if any charges were given at all.
Tedisco said that while those responsible for using the puppies as drug mules are depraved, it could perhaps be argued in court by their defense lawyers that it wasn't their "intention" to cause the animals' "serious physical injury" as stated in the original Buster's law, and that the drug dealers might not be convicted on the animal cruelty charge.
"When we passed the original bill we hadn't yet imagined the sick new ways that criminals had come up with to exploit and abuse animals to further their criminal activities," said Tedisco.
"Throughout my career as a State Senator, I have sponsored, supported and promoted legislation to protect animal rights," said Sen. Padavan. "As such, I am pleased to join with Minority Leader Tedisco in introducing this legislation to increase penalties on hard core criminals who abuse innocent animals to promote their illegal activities."
Former Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro said, "Because animal cruelty is often a precursor to violence against people, I have aggressively prosecuted cruelty cases and fought for increased penalties for those who commit crimes against animals."
As District Attorney, Pirro created an Animal Cruelty Unit to track, investigate and prosecute cases in Westchester County, as well as an Animal Cruelty Task Force composed of veterinarians, animal advocates and law enforcement personnel to identify abuse, raise awareness and promote legislation to better protect animals and therefore the community.
Pirro continued, "This legislation will send a clear message that if you harm a defenseless pet while committing your crime you will go to prison."
"The ASPCA supports the effort to close gaps in existing law to better protect companion animals in our state against acts of extreme cruelty- particularly those involving exploitation of innocent animals in furtherance of other criminal purposes. New York is a state of animal lovers that will not passively tolerate behavior that treats companion animals as disposable property without feeling or capacity for suffering," said Stacy Wolf, Senior Director, Legislative Services and Anti-Cruelty Training at The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA.)
The FBI has said that animal cruelty is a bridge crime to serious crimes against humans. Infamous serial killers Ted Bundy, the "Son of Sam" and Jeffrey Dahmer all had histories of abusing animals.
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