Oneida County Looks to Launch Animal Abuse Registry & Ban Abusers From Owning Pets
Oneida County is looking to create an Animal Abuse Registry and ban such offenders from owning pets in the future.
County Executive Anthony Picente was joined by Sheriff Rob Maciol and District Attorney Scott McNamara in announcing the proposed local law, which would need approval from the Oneida County Board of Legislators.
''Far too often we see individuals who have been charged with animal abuse - there's not way currently to track that - and unfortunately they end up adopting again or acquiring animals,'' Maciol said, adding the proposed law is modeled after a similar program in Albany County.
The list would only include such offenders who committed animal abuse crimes in the future.
''We wouldn't be able to put anyone on who committed a crime before [the registry's establishment]'', McNamara said.
Offenders who are convicted under the New York State Agriculture and Markets Law Article 26, to include prohibited animal fighting, overdriving, torturing and injuring animals; failure to provide proper sustenance, aggravated cruelty to animals and abandonment, and poisoning or attempted poisoning of animals would be required to self register on the Oneida County list. Failure to do so could result in a fine up to $2,000 or up to a year in jail.
Meanwhile, someone on the list who takes ownership of a pet would be subject to a $5,000 fine and up to a year in jail. And, any animal shelter or breeder in Oneida County who is found to have knowingly sold or exchanged ownership to a listed offender could also face a $5,000 fine and up to a year in jail.
All of the above mentioned offenses would be classified as misdemeanors.
It's worth noting a person convicted of animal abuse in Oneida County wouldn't be prohibited from owning an animal elsewhere in the state, only Oneida County.
McNamara said he has previously lobbied for updated animal abuse laws across New York State, but said for some reason Albany lawmakers have failed to take action.
''There needs to be a statue, and it should be in the penal law [in New York state]...There's been a lot of legislation proposed [in Albany]...but they will not address what I consider to be a major problem across the state. And, that is the way that we cannot prosecute people that kill animals."
The district attorney said the most notorious case locally involved the case of 'Lainey', in which the dog was basically starved to death. Outdated state laws and regulations made the case very difficult to prosecute.
Without such a registry, local animal shelters have no way of knowing that a person who is adopting a pet has a history of animal abuse, officials said.
''What if that person [Lainey's owner] showed up to the humane society and wanted to adopt a dog, who would know any different? Nobody,'' said McNamara.
A program has been in the works for a few years, but identifying a law that was enforceable and prosecutable, has been challenging.