Two extreme cases of alleged animal abuse in the Capital Region have prompted Assemblyman James Tedisco to renew his push for a package of legislation aimed at preventing these types of events.
A statewide registry for animal abusers, prohibition on future ownership of animals by convicted abusers, mandatory psychiatric evaluations for abusers and incentives to spay and neuter pets are all being advanced by Tedisco, R-Glenville, who owns two cats and two dogs, all spayed or neutered.
Recent animal abuses cases include a trio in Halfmoon facing misdemeanor counts of animal abuse for allegedly having more than 130 cats inside their now condemned home, as well as the discovery of 44 dead cats in a home in Johnsonville.
Tedisco describes the problem of animal abuse as one of access and mental illness, noting the punishments violators get, whether a fine or brief jail stint, don’t prevent people from committing the same crimes over and over again.
“You need a holistic approach,” Tedisco said.
For starters, all convicted abusers would have to join a statewide registry, at their own expense, so shelters and other animal providers would be able to look up a potential animal owner before giving them an animal.
Animal Protection Foundation Executive Director Rosalie Ault said a registry would be great.
“We get a lot of animals in here that are neglected or abused and all kinds of things … so to have some kind of registry to access would be wonderful to communicate with one another to prevent someone with a violent or neglectful history from adopting an animal,” she said.
To deal with issues that cause people to abuse animals, Tedisco is calling for convicted abusers to receive mental health evaluations, which could put them on the road to recovery. This requirement could also catch future serial killers, said Ault.
“One-hundred percent of the time, pretty much, animal abuse starts with children being cruel to animals,” she said. “That is something that has been proven among serial killers in their youth.”
Ault’s Glenville-based organization educates children about the importance of being kind to animals.
As for a tax incentive for people who spay or neuter their pets, she said that goes hand in hand with the mission of her organization. Tedisco argued that this effort deals with a root problem that can lead to abuse or hoarding, since an abundance of animals means some of the wrong people can get their hands on them.
In addition to his own spay and neuter legislation, he is also supporting another bill that allows people to donate to spay and neuter programs through their state income tax return.
“We’re never going to get all these animals off the street and into safe homes, but these areas of legislation can help deal with the problems,” Tedisco said.
Many of these issues will be topics for the second New York State Animal Advocacy Day on June 13 in Albany. The event was created by Tedisco to raise awareness about these issues and highlight at least one specific bill in the Assembly and state Senate.