Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R,C,I-Schenectady-Saratoga) today hailed the passage of legislation he co-sponsors to increase criminal penalties for animal fighting.
The bill, (A.4407), sponsored by Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, was a main focus of the first-ever New York State Animal Advocacy Day sponsored by Assemblyman Tedisco, which was held on June 1, and drew over 500 animal advocates to Albany to lobby for stronger animal cruelty laws.
“This goes to show that the most powerful voices in our representative democracy are not the elected officials but the people we represent. Animal advocates and New Yorkers from across the state spoke, dogs barked and cats meowed and the Legislature has listened – a bill to protect animals from the barbaric cruelty of animal fighting has taken its next step to becoming law,” said Tedisco, former Minority Leader and current Assistant Minority Whip, who has two dogs and two cats.
The bill increases penalties for spectators at animal fighting events to a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to three months in jail and a $500 fine for the first offense and up to a year in jail and $1,000 fine for a second offense. As news reports have shown, there seems to be an organized criminal infrastructure for what is a cruel and barbaric industry.
In 1999, Tedisco led a statewide effort that helped to collect over 118,000 signatures to pass the landmark Buster’s Law creating 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. As research indicates, violence against animals is a bridge crime that can, and has, led to violence against people.
“Our next step is to require anyone convicted of Buster’s Law to undergo a psychiatric evaluation (A.1580/S.5084 and A.1567/S.3805) and be placed on a registry of animal abusers (A.1506/S.3804),” said Tedisco.
Now that the animal fighting legislation has been passed by both houses of the Legislature, it goes to Governor Cuomo for review and action.