Suffolk County Strengthens Animal Abuser Registry Law

happy dog Update May 10, 2011: Less than a year after creating the world’s first animal abuser registry, Suffolk County lawmakers have agreed to give the measure even more bite by requiring pet stores, breeders and animal shelters to determine if prospective pet owners appear on that registry before allowing the animals to be purchased or adopted.

The law, sponsored by Legislative Majority Leader Jon Cooper (D-Lloyd Harbor) would require all pet stores, breeders and animal shelters operating in the County to ask for photo identification from prospective owners and adopters. They would then be mandated to check those names against the animal abuser registry created by Cooper last October. Exempt from Cooper’s law is the requirement to check names if the prospective buyer is purchasing feeder animals (which typically are mealworms, crickets or mice) for another pet.

“I’m thrilled that my colleagues joined me in giving my animal abuser registry law some real teeth with the adoption of this companion bill,” says Cooper. “This will go a long way towards keeping new victims out of the hands of disturbed individuals who derive pleasure from the suffering of innocent animals.”

For more on this landmark ordinance, read Animal Law Coalition’s report below.

Original report: This past week the Suffolk County, New York Legislature passed an ordinance that if approved by County Executive Steve Levy, will require all adults convicted of an animal abuse crime in New York state to register as an animal abuser.

The registry will contain the offender’s name, any aliases, current address and a photo. Each offender must pay $50 annually and remain on the registry for 5 years following the last conviction for animal abuse.

Animal abuse is defined as "animal fighting, as defined in the New York State Agriculture and Markets Law (hereinafter "A.M.L.") §351; overdriving, torturing and injuring animals; failure to provide proper sustenance, as defined in A.M.L. § 353; aggravated cruelty to animals, as defined in A.M.L. §353-a; abandonment of animals, as defined in A.M.L. § 355; failure to provide proper food and drink to impounded animal, as defined in A.M.L. §356; interference with or injury to certain domestic animals, as defined in A.M.L. §361; harming a service animal in the first degree, as defined in New York State Penal Code §242.15."

Failure to register could mean a year in jail and a fine up to $1,000.

A number of states including New York introduced bills this past session to establish statewide registries but none of the bills passed. Suffolk County is the first to establish an animal abuse registry that will make animal abusers known to the public and make it easier to track them should they relocate. Animal control and law enforcement around the country can check the registry to determine who now living in their area was previously a resident of Suffolk County and convicted of animal abuse or fighting in New York. 

One thought on “Suffolk County Strengthens Animal Abuser Registry Law”

  1. The difference between this registry and vis is that this is a law that actually requires animal abusers to register, and the registry is maintained by law enforcement. is a wonderful resource and provides much more information about particular cases than the registry will, but can’t require abusers to register and does not track their current location as they move around the county. has issued a statement, making the great point that as they become widespread, the registries must be standardized or we will not be able to keep track of the abusers without checking hundreds of registries. As it is now, law enforcement in Suffolk County could check the registry, find out if someone is an abuser and if someone moves from Suffolk County, people in their new location will be able to check the Suffolk County registry to find out if the person is an abuser. So as more jurisdictions pass this kind of law, standardization will be important so you don’t have to check hundreds of registries. But certainly registries, as with sex offenders, will take tracking abusers to a new level.

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