Proposed Local Law Would Create Countywide Animal Abuse Registry

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A proposed local law creating an animal abuse registry to be maintained by the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office is set to be heard by the legislature’s public safety committee next week.

The local law — announced by County Executive George Borrello on Thursday — would create an online registry to identify any Chautauqua County resident who has been convicted of animal abuse crimes. Such crimes mentioned in the legislation include abandoning, injuring, overdriving, or torturing animals; failing to provide proper sustenance; poisoning or attempting to poison animals; harming service animals; and injuring or killing a police animal.

This law would prevent animal abuse offenders from adopting, purchasing or obtaining animals from any animal shelter or pet seller. It also requires animal shelters and pet sellers to examine the Animal Abuser Registry to confirm that the name of the potential owner is not listed.

“This law will put convicted animal abusers on a public list similar to sex offenders,” Borrello said in a statement. “People have the right to know if someone who has a record of abusing animals is living in their neighborhood. Through this registry they can be aware of these individuals and take measures to protect their pets and their family.”

Borrello noted in his statement announcing the proposed legislation said Nikolas Cruz, the Florida school shooter, had a “record of bragging about torturing animals on social media.”

“Anyone who can intentionally abuse an animal likely suffers from mental illness or just has evil in their heart and is capable of far worse,” Borrello said. “It’s my hope that by implementing this law we will also deter people from intentionally causing harm to an animal because the consequences will be something that will follow them for life.”

Under the proposed law, the Sheriff’s Office would be responsible for establishing and maintaining the Chautauqua County Animal Abuser Registry. This registry, which would be available on the Sheriff’s website, would provide a name, address, and photo for each animal abuse offender. The offender would be listed on this registry for a period of 15 years.

“Animal abuse is an unfortunate reality in our society and we must take steps to help eliminate it,” Sheriff Joe Gerace said. “I became aware of similar legislation that was passed in several other New York counties and believe it would be beneficial in Chautauqua County as well. This new law would help ensure that those who are convicted of animal abuse will no longer be able to own and potentially abuse animals. Animals are unable to defend themselves and the passage of the animal abuse registry act will help prevent further acts of cruelty.”

The proposed law also sets the following penalties for violators:

• An animal abuse offender who fails to register will be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by incarceration for a period of not more than one year and/or a fine not to exceed $2,000;

• An animal abuse offender who violates the prohibition against possessing, owning, adopting or purchasing an animal will be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by incarceration for a period of not more than one year and/or a fine not to exceed $5,000; and

• An animal shelter or pet seller who does not examine the Chautauqua County Animal Abuser Registry to confirm the potential owner is not listed on it before the transfer of an animal, shall be guilty of a violation and subject to a fine of $5,000.

If the local law is approved by the Public Safety Committee on Wednesday it will be subject to the approval of the full Chautauqua County Legislature during its meeting on Wednesday, March 28.

If approved, the Local Law Authorizing the Creation of An Animal Abuse Registry would go into effect upon filing it with the Secretary of State.

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