According to WKTV News, the New York State Senate has passed legislation requiring animal abusers who violate Buster’s Law to register with the division of criminal justice services. Known as S2305A, the new bill also requires abuser to undergo a psychiatric evaluation, plus bans them from any future pet ownership. A PDF of the entire bill can be found by clicking this link (a new tab opens up).
I’m sorry about the long read, but it’s necessary to present a clear picture.
Buster’s Law is named after an 18-month old cat who was set on fire back in Schenectady by a 16-year old named Chester Williamson. Williamson went on to be a three time felon after the rape of a 12-year-old girl. After this crime, he was placed in Attica Correctional Facility. Buster was tortured then doused in kerosene before being set on fire. Advocates pushed hard in New York, and Buster’s law being passed made animal cruelty against a companion animal a felony, punishable by up to two years in prison. Buster’s Law also made psychiatric evaluations for abusers mandatory.
Buster’s Law defines a perpetrator of felony animal cruelty as a person who is guilty of aggravated cruelty to animals when he or she intentionally kills or intentionally causes serious physical injury to a companion animal with no justifiable purpose. Aggravated cruelty means conduct which is intended to cause extreme physical pain or is carried out in an especially depraved or sadistic manner.
When Buster’s Law was signed by Governor George Pataki in 1999, it made New York one of 18 states that declared certain cases of animal cruelty a felony. Now almost all states have some provision for animal cruelty.
Between Jan. 1, 2005, and Nov, 22, 2010, 373 people were charged with Buster’s Law violations. More than half escaped with punishment equal to a parking ticket. More than 60% of those tried for animal cruelty under Buster’s Law never served a day in jail. Brad Shear, executive director of Mohawk Humane Society stated the reason for this was municipal cuts. Prosecutors simply don’t have the time to put the man hours into a case to get a conviction
NEW YORK BILL S2305A
When bill S2305A becomes law, it will be a great step forward in protection our companion animals. Not only will local police departments be able to keep tabs on where animal abusers live, it will also require them to get psychiatric help if needed. And it will keep the abuser from ever owning a pet again. Not just a year or two, but forever.
Information on the registry will be kept updated and will be made accessible to the public. This is critical, as those who adopt out animals will be able to refer to the registry to see if the person applying for adoption is a registered animal abuser.
Senator Greg Ball summarized the new bill saying
“Buster’s Law was a landmark bill for our furry little friends. This animal abuse registry will prevent repeat animal abuse offenders,” said Senator Greg Ball. “Persons who commit crimes against animals represent some of the worst kind of people, and often expand their carnage to their neighbors and the larger community. Most people can agree that the level of respect and kindness shown for animals, creatures who cannot speak for themselves, or protect themselves and are easily abused and taken advantage of, is a fine predictor of how a person will treat their peers. Violent and cruel behavior towards animals, cannot and should not be tolerated.”
BillS2305A is now headed to the New York Assembly, where it is sponsored by Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R,C,I-Glenville). State Senator Joseph Griffo voted for the new bill, and Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi will also support it.
PROBLEMS WILL REMAIN, EVEN AFTER THE BILL IS PASSED
Although this is a good step in protecting the companion animals of New York, there’s still a lot of problems. One being the United States needs a national animal cruelty registry. This would prevent those convicted in one state from moving to another state and abusing animals there. People move all the time, and it would be next to impossible to keep track of every felony animal abuser out there.
Still, New York has the right idea in showing people are fed up with animal abuse. While a national registry likely won’t happen in this generation, I believe it is the goal of animal advocates everywhere. It’s just a shame we have to take “baby steps” to get there.
The other problem is someone has to be convicted of violating Buster’s Law, or their name will never end up on the state registry in the first place. As you can see from the figures listed above, there are a lot of sick animal abusers slipping through the justice system. Until they hurt or kill a person.
Readers, what are your thoughts on bill S2305A?
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