Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal Bill to Crack Down on Animal Cruelty Passes Both Houses

Bill will require veterinarians to report suspected cases of animal abuse

New York, NY Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan) announced that her bill (A5823/S5023) to require veterinarians to report suspected cases of animal cruelty has passed both houses and now heads to the Governor. The bill, which was carried in the State Senate by Michael Gianaris, will require vets who suspect an animal's injuries were caused by criminal abuse or neglect to report it to local law enforcement that investigates animal crimes. 

“This bill will allow veterinarians to have a greater role in protecting vulnerable animals by reporting cases of suspected animal cruelty to local law enforcement for investigation,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. “Violence against animals is often predictive of violence against people, particularly domestic violence, and it is vital that we do everything we can to root out both. Vets have been on the front lines in identifying animal abuse, and now they have the tools they need to stop abuse and get animals the help they need.”

“Empowering veterinarians to report animal abuse is an important step forward in stopping violence against animals. This type of abuse is indicative of other abuse in families – if there’s animal abuse in a household there’s probably also domestic violence and/or child abuse. These stories are all too familiar with innocent animals being abused, beaten and, at times, killed,” said Libby Post, Executive Director of the New York State Animal Protection Federation, the advocacy voice of the state’s animal shelters. “New York’s animal shelters step up each and every day to care for the animals that survive this abuse and we will continue to do so. We look forward to partnering with veterinarians across the state to recognize and report animal crimes and help stem the tide of family violence. The Federation stands with State Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal in their on-going efforts to protect New York’s animals. We look forward to this bill passing in the Assembly before the end of the legislative session.”

“All too often, the mistreatment of animals goes undetected and/or unreported and the perpetrators of the mistreatment are not held accountable. Veterinarians have the unique ability to identify and document mistreatment. Requiring their reporting of suspected animal fighting, abuse and neglect will save lives. Humane Society of New York applauds Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal for championing the effort to protect animals and their guardians,” said Elinor Molbegott, Esq., Legal Counsel/Animal Issues, Humane Society of New York.

“Veterinarians may be the first professionals to recognize medical signs of reportable animal abuse in any given case. Bringing such information forward may help prevent further mistreatment, as well as possible violence against humans in the home,” said Brian Shapiro, New York State Director for the Humane Society of the United States. “The HSUS applauds Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal for her commitment to championing legislation requiring veterinarians to report suspected cases of abuse and neglect. Mandatory veterinary reporting has already been enacted in more than 15 states and with the Assembly’s passage of this bill, New York is poised to carry this important safety measure into law. We respectfully urge Governor Cuomo to sign this meaningful legislation, which will help create safer communities and advance standards of animal protection across the state.”

“Veterinarians are uniquely positioned to identify signs of animal abuse early in the cycle and intervene before an animal is harmed further. The passage of Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal’s legislation mandating reporting by veterinarians of any animal abuse they encounter will protect countless pets and people from harm and guarantee veterinarians the legal immunity necessary to aid in the fight against animal cruelty. We look forward to seeing this legislation signed into law!” said Allie Feldman Taylor, President, Voters for Animal Rights.

“We are grateful that the New York State legislature passed a bill requiring veterinarians to report suspected animal cruelty,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “Not only are veterinarians often the only witnesses to animal abuse, but they are uniquely qualified to identify the signs of cruelty – helping ensure more animal victims are removed from harm. We thank the bill sponsors for their leadership on this issue and urge Governor Cuomo to swiftly sign this bill into law.”

The legislation, which will take effect 60 days after it is signed, changes current law which simply allows veterinarians to report suspected abuse to require vets to report cases of suspected abuse or neglect to law enforcement. The reporting is anonymous and veterinarians who report abuse are specifically shielded from liability for civil or criminal damages.