A bipartisan push for a tougher animal rights law is on in New York state.
Area state legislators have fingers crossed that this is the year an enhanced animal rights bill will reach the Assembly floor for a vote and be signed into law. The Senate passed a similar bill each of the last four years, attempting to toughen animal cruelty and abuse laws. Republican Senator Jim Tedisco says the measure passed in the Senate last year by a 59-1 vote. "But unfortunately, with the downstate interests we have who don't seem to be really concerned about public safety in our upstate areas and across the state in many instances, it hasn't been able to get through the last committee or the last hurdle in the New York state Assembly."
Now, Tedisco and his Republican colleague Senator George Amedore have partnered with Democratic Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara in calling for passage of a measure re-christened "Kirby & Quigley's Law," so named for two Montgomery County dogs that were shot and killed during a home burglary about a year ago. Amedore hopes strong bipartisan support will put the bill on the fast-track to the governor's desk. "This bill expands the definition of aggravated cruelty to animals under the Buster's Law. And we need to do everything we can to protect all members of our family, two-legged as well as four-legged family members. This is an important law and it's unfortunate that this hasn't been done sooner. The Assembly continues to hold things up. Anyone who commits such heinous crimes against an animal needs to be properly punished."
The bill would broaden Buster’s Law, making it a felony to harm a pet during commission of another felony. Tedisco notes that killing a pet can lead to larger kills later on down the road. "Those who hurt our companion pets or animals and use aggravated cruelty in their actions toward them, go on to hurt human beings. The FBI has put this up on a A-level, that individuals who will be cruel to animals will be the individuals who will most likely go on to be serial murderers. We all know the names. Son of Sam. Ted Bundy. Dahmer. The Columbine kids. All had a history of abusing animals before they became serial murderers. And this bill says, and it's most importantly, that if you are committing a crime like a burglary or any other felony, if you do indeed murder, harm or illustrate under Buster's Law, aggravated cruelty towards a companion pet or other animal, you could be convicted of another felony which would add an additional two years and $5,000 penalty."
Santabarbara says the bill hits home for him: his autistic son has bonded with the family dog. "A little two-pound Yorkie. My son was diagnosed with autism at age 3. He's 15 now and he has trouble communicating, so it's hard for him to make friends. This dog is his friend, and if he were to lose his friend it would be pretty devastating for him.
Santabarbara adds that the law sends a message that anyone who takes the life of an innocent animal during commission of another crime will be held accountable.
The bill was scheduled to be taken up once again in the New York Senate on Monday afternoon.