New York Animal Laws Need Overhaul, Says Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice

| by Phyllis M Daugherty

With Animal Humane Lobby Day just two days away, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced at a news conference Monday that New York’s animal laws are antiquated and “in desperate need of an overhaul.”

“This is nonsense that this is the state of animal crimes in New York State,” Rice told reporters. “

Laws against animal cruelty in New York are codified in the state’s Agriculture and Markets Law, and there has been little change in nearly 150 years, DA Rice said.

Police officers are not trained to enforce the Agriculture and Markets section of law, she added.

The District Attorney is calling for the Consolidated Animal Crimes Bill, which her office introduced in 2012, to be passed in Albany.

When New York codified its laws, “women could not vote, there were no traffic lights and burglary wasn’t considered a crime,” she noted.

It was April 19, 1866, when the first anti-cruelty law was passed. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) was founded earlier that same year by Henry Bergh, based on the belief that animals are entitled to kind and respectful treatment at the hands of humans.

By 1888, 37 out of the 38 states in the union had enacted anti-cruelty laws. Early goals of the ASPCA focused on efforts for horses and livestock, since at the time they were used for a number of activities. Starting at the turn of the 20th century, small domestic animals, like cats and dogs, became the focus.

Brian Shapiro, New York state director of the Humane Society of the United States, confirmed that: “There is a growing public consensus on the need to crack down on serious animal related crimes...However, New York’s anti-cruelty statutes have been placed out of reach in the state’s Agriculture & Markets Law, which is unfamiliar territory for most police agencies, prosecutors and judges.”

“I urge my colleagues to support this bill to help law enforcement better protect animals from cruelty, neglect, and abuse,” state Sen. Andrew Lanza, R-Staten Island, the Senate sponsor of the Consolidated Animal Crimes Bill, said in a news release issued by Rice’s office.

Sources: CBS, ASPCA