Two bills introduced by Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and Sen. Andrew Lanza, both Staten Island Republicans, would strengthen New York’s animal cruelty laws.
The bills, which have been endorsed by the Humane Society of New York, would increase penalties and close legal loopholes that create opportunity for animal cruelty. The first (A.5505/S.5115) creates the crime of aggravated cruelty to animals when a person has previously been convicted of animal cruelty.
The second bill (A.5506/S.5116) broadens the existing statute regarding cruelty to animals to include all animals, rather than the typical “companion animals.” The bill would not protect animals killed by hunters, animals killed in emergency situations, and livestock, as the existing law covers conduct “with no justifiable purpose.”
The proposed new laws were inspired by a November 2014 incident in which a dog was thrown from a car window and was severely injured. Research from the American Prosecutors Research Institute suggest that repeated acts of violence toward animals typically leads to violence toward humans.
“Animal cruelty is often evidence of deeper, more serious issues within the person committing the crime that have led to similar crimes against humans,” Malliotakis said. “We must do all that we can to ensure that those who commit such crimes are properly dealt with and prevented from moving on to similar action toward humans.”
The Institute also cites growing evidence that animal abuse occurs frequently alongside domestic violence, child abuse and elder abuse.
For example, prior to killing his classmates at Pearl High School in Mississippi, Luke Woodham brutally beat his dog and set her on fire, according to the Humane Society of New York. David Berkowitz, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Ted Bundy, all serial killers, also abused animals prior to killing humans.
Malliotakis and Lanza are pursuing these legislative changes to bring voices to the voiceless, they say.
“Cruelty to our beloved pets — who cannot speak for themselves and often cannot protect themselves from the sick people who abuse them — is something that should not be tolerated,” Lanza said.