Contact: Joshua Fitzpatrick, (518) 455-3751
For Immediate Release:
Friday, July 18, 2008

Tedisco Renews Call For Strengthening Buster's Law
Says recent cases of animal cruelty warrant stiffer penalties for abusers

In the wake of recent incidents of shocking animal cruelty in the Capital District and Buffalo, Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco (R,C,I-Schenectady-Saratoga) today renewed his call to strengthen "Buster's Law," the animal abuse and cruelty prevention initiative that he introduced and championed. Tedisco called for enactment of Assembly Bill A.4828, a measure that would strengthen Buster's Law by requiring those convicted under the statute to undergo psychiatric evaluations which show that they are capable of caring for a companion animal before ever owning one again.

Tedisco noted that two cats were recently found tortured and killed in Troy, New York. The first was mutilated and stuffed into a luggage bag that later washed up on the shores of the Hudson River. The second was maimed, wrapped in a painter's tarp and dumped on a city street. A third cat was found hanging from a shoelace, strangled to death, on a utility line in Buffalo.

"No pet ever deserves to be placed in harm's way," Tedisco said. "Sadly, many pets are cruelly abused by twisted individuals who often go on to commit violent crimes against people. It's disturbing that someone could do such a horrible thing to a harmless animal. We need to strengthen Buster's Law so individuals who would abuse animals are properly punished."

Tedisco was the driving force behind Buster's Law, which created the felony category of "aggravated cruelty to animals," punishable by up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Buster's Law was named after an 18-month-old tabby cat that had been doused with kerosene and burned to death by a Schenectady teen in 1997. Prior to this bill becoming law, animal cruelty resulted in misdemeanor penalties, if any charges were imposed at all.

Tedisco noted that since the 1997 arrest that inspired the creation of Buster's Law, the perpetrator who abused the cat has been imprisoned for various crimes, including attempted rape, sexual abuse and unlawful imprisonment of a 12-year-old girl.

"People who abuse animals are on a fast track to one day harming or killing people. It is critical that state government take every measure possible to halt such an escalating pattern of abuse," Tedisco stated.

FBI reports show that animal cruelty is an offense that often leads to other, more serious crimes against humans. According to the Humane Society of the United States, a 1997 survey of the largest shelters for battered women in the United States found that 85 percent of women and 63 percent of children entering shelters discussed incidents of pet abuse in their families. Notorious serial killers Ted Bundy, David Berkowitz and Jeffrey Dahmer all had histories of abusing animals.

"Buster's Law established animal cruelty as a criminal offense and showed that New York is serious about enforcing penalties against criminals who hurt animals," Tedisco said. "I hope no companion animal in our state ever again suffers the heartbreaking fate of Buster, or the three cats that were recently slain. Strengthening Buster's Law is an appropriate and humane way to address this issue, and if enacted, will help protect other animals from harm."

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