Coalition Supports Legislation to Educate Law Enforcement About Animal Cruelty Laws

For Immediate Release:
June 9th, 2015

Contact: Steve Ammerman, NYFB Manager of Public Affairs 
518-431-5643 (Office) 518-573-3617 (Cell), sammerman@nyfb.org
New York State Humane Association
845-336-4514

COALITION SUPPORTS LEGISLATION TO EDUCATE LAW ENFORCEMENT ABOUT ANIMAL CRUELTY LAWS

Animal abuse is a serious issue that can be misunderstood or go unprosecuted. That is why animal welfare advocates joined together today in Albany, NY to call for the passage of legislation that would provide law enforcement with training and educational materials on animal cruelty laws in New York. It is important that officers and district attorneys across the state have an understanding of existing laws that are meant to punish those who violate them and to protect animals.

At today’s press conference, New York Farm Bureau and the New York State Humane Association partnered together to call for the passage of bill A7207/S5320 before the end of the legislative session. The chairs of the Agriculture Committees in both houses, Senator Patty Ritchie and Assemblyman Bill Magee, are sponsoring the legislation.

The legislation would do three main things. First, it would allow the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets (NYSDAM) to develop police training policies in conjunction with the Municipal Police Training Council as they relate to the enforcement of animal cruelty and protection laws. The bill also would require the Division of Criminal Justice Services to assist NYSDAM in developing information about animal cruelty and protection laws to be used by law enforcement. Finally, that information would be made available in both written and electronic form for use by police agencies, officers, and district attorneys. There would also be coordination among NYSDAM and DCJS to develop training programs as well.

Assemblyman Magee and Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple joined NYFB and NYSHA at the press conference voicing their support for the legislation.

“Farmers take the wellbeing of their animals seriously. When abuse happens anywhere, it is important for our law enforcement officers and district attorneys to be able to recognize it and prosecute fully according to the law,” said Dean Norton, New York Farm Bureau President. “In addition, this bill would also clear up confusion that may exist surrounding animal cruelty statutes that are currently found under Agriculture and Markets Law. We applaud Senator Ritchie and Assemblyman Magee for their support of this animal welfare legislation.”

“The mistreatment of animals is a significant public safety, health, and quality of life concern for communities across New York State. These are serious crimes that should be handled by our trained law enforcement professionals. Improved access and understanding of the state’s cruelty statutes will only help to enhance the efforts of officers and ensure better outcomes for animals and people,” said Susan McDonough of the New York State Humane Association (NYSHA) and a retired New York State Trooper. Ms. McDonough added, “Investigations into offenses against animals can often help to uncover additional related crimes such as domestic violence, child and elder abuse, animal fighting, drug trafficking, and the illegal possession of guns. NYSHA commends Assemblyman Magee and Senator Ritchie for recognizing the importance of this issue and for introducing legislation to ensure that crucial training and resources are made available to law enforcement agencies and district attorneys statewide.”

“Any good agriculture policy has to include protections for the animals in our care, especially the ones we bring into our homes as pets,” said Assemblyman Bill Magee, Chair of the Agriculture Committee and sponsor of the bill. “That’s why I’m joining these great advocates in support of this legislation.”

“Training opportunities for law enforcement officials is an invaluable tool to fight animal cruelty. Training our law enforcement personnel to respond and properly conduct field investigations in animal cruelty cases is essential to a successful prosecution. This is an area that we must improve upon in order to protect these vulnerable creatures,” said Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple.

The full press conference can be viewed at: http://youtu.be/hT1BdDCiuDo

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