Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R,C,I-Schenectady-Saratoga) today applauded the signing of legislation he co-sponsored to increase criminal penalties for animal fighting.
The bill, (A.4407), was stalled in committee until Tedisco made it the centerpiece of the first-ever New York State Animal Advocacy Day, held on June 1st, drawing over 500 animal advocates to Albany to lobby for stronger animal cruelty laws. On August 2nd, Tedisco wrote Governor Cuomo to urge him to sign the measure into law.
“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, pet owners and New Yorkers from across the state spoke and our elected officials listened – a bill to protect animals from the barbaric cruelty of animal fighting is now 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.
“Animals are our friends, companions and part of many of our families. They provide us with unconditional love. That’s why we need to stand up and protect them. 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.