IMPORTANT UPDATE: The FBI has now classified animal abuse as a Class A felony. This will help us prosecute cases even in states like NY that have horrendous animal abuse laws. The question, of course, is getting them to prosecute.
In a move seen as a big win for animal rights activists, the FBI has added animal cruelty to its list of Class A felonies, alongside homicide and arson.
Cases of animal cruelty fall into four categories — neglect; intentional abuse and torture; organized abuse, such as cock and dog fighting; and sexual abuse of animals — and the agency is now monitoring them as it does other serious crimes. Starting January 1, data is being entered into the National Incident-Based Reporting System or NIBRS, the public database the FBI uses to keep a record of national crimes.
The FBI's decision will not only be a way to stop cases of animal abuse but also can help to identify people who might commit violent acts, according to the Christian Science Monitor. Psychological studies show that nearly 70 percent of violent criminals began by abusing animals, and keeping statistics on such cases can help law enforcement track down high-risk demographics and areas.
"Regardless of whether people care about how animals are treated, people – like legislators and judges – care about humans, and they can't deny the data," Natasha Dolezal, director of the animal law program in the Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark College, in Portland, Oregon, told the Associated Press.
Animal abuse is already a felony in 13 states and in Washington, DC., but it had been previously classified with other miscellaneous crimes, making it impossible to get a handle on the patterns of animal-abuse crimes.
The move to begin tracking cases of animal abuse is a "huge policy shift and significant step forward," Scott Heiser, a lawyer with the Animal Defense League, told the Washington Post.
The FBI announced the change in 2014 but only began collecting data as of this month. The information will be publicly available in the coming year, the FBI said.
For an example of the flip side, horrendously inadequate state laws are often similar to New York's laws, and remain horrendous despite what we know about the animal abuse/human violence connection. For example, NY’s animal cruelty laws are mostly in the Agriculture and Markets Law (§§ 331-379) and just a couple are in NY’s Penal Law (§ 130.20; sentencing under paragraph (b) of subdivision one of section 55.10 of the Penal Law), so this gives you an idea of what status animals have in NY.
The penalties for animal abuse in NY are not significant, even though there is a growing awareness of the enormous connection between animal abuse and human violence, including domestic violence (which we will discuss later) and the public's increasing awareness that, at the very least, dogs and cats should no longer be treated by the law as "chattel" (legal term for object e.g. toaster oven, dog, couch, cat, etc.).
For instance, the Agriculture and Markets Law (hereinafter "AML") § 353-b holds that a dog or cat owner or custodian who leaves the dog or cat outside without appropriate shelter (which the law describes in detail) can receive violations that trigger a series of fines, but then the court can reduce the fines by an amount the owner/custodian proves he/she has spent to correct the deficiencies. (http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us)
Another example of a weak law is AML § 353, identified as “Overdriving, torturing and injuring animals; failure to provide proper sustenance.” While this governs all animals, including farm animals and wildlife, it describes a number of gruesome acts yet the perpetrator is guilty of only a misdemeanor.
UPDATE 2016: The Consolidated Animal Crimes Bill would move these into the Penal Code, where other crimes are. Unfortunately, it will be a while before we see progress. Note that there are federal bills that address certain areas of animal abuse, such as dog fighting, and changes have been made, increasingly, such as the above-referenced change to the FBI having abuse reclassified as a Class A felony, as well as addions to the Farm Bill regarding animal fighting (alas, not enforced much, at least not here on Long Island (NY))
SUFFOLK COUNTY NOW HAS THE FIRST ANIMAL ABUSER REGISTRY IN THE COUNTRY. THE NASSAU COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE HAS THE FIRST ANIMAL ABUSE DIVISION IN A DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE IN NEW YORK AND ONE OF THE FIRST, AND PERHAPS THE FIRST, IN THE COUNTRY. WE LOOK FORWARD TO OTHER JURISDICTIONS FOLLOWING OUR LEADS, INCLUDING EACH LONG ISLAND COUNTY ADOPTING THE OTHER'S MUCH-NEEDED CHANGES, AS WELL AS YOUR SUPPORT PROVIDING THE RESOURCES TO ENFORCE THE NEW LAWS AS WE GET THEM. Please also see our recent write-up in Newsday and hear our latest radio show appearance on streetwise Pro with Lou Telano, from the Summer of 2015, recording to be posted soon and currently, available upon request. REMEMBER: esp in election season, it will be prime time to get on your lawmakers' tails!!!!!
IMPORTANT WARNING on toxic dog shampoo. I am putting it here under Abuse for several reasons, including the fact that the manufacturers are well-aware of this and choose to keep selling these products. Here is more info, from one of my clients. More updates shall be posted as we receive them
Also, please watch footage of NBC NY (Channel 4) 5:00 news from September 18, 2012 for a story affecting not just animals, animal lovers but even others-toxic "natural" ingredients in dog shampoos. These ingredients may also be in multiple other products. Exposure to them, even second-hand, such as kids helping parents with dog washing, being exposed in other ways, may cause seizures and other medical problems in children.
There are so many statistics from so many experts that clearly show the animal abuse/violence against humans and other crimes connection that what is printed below is just the tip of the iceberg. Essentially, animal abuse is like a crystal ball-show a cop (or a District Attorney, a social scientist, etc.) an animal abuser and he/she can show you someone who has committed and will continue to commit a host of other violent crimes unless stopped.
-70% of animal abusers were found in one 20 year study to have then committed other crimes, and 44% went on to harm people. (Arluke, A. & Luke, C. 1997-note: Dr. Arnold Arluke is a social scientist who studies and publishes studies, papers, and books on the connection between animal abusers, crime, and other problems, the interplay between culture and different roles in animal abuse situations (shelter workers, police, animal hoarders, adolescent animal abusers, etc.)
· A 1997 study by Dr. Arluke showed that when comparing 153 animal abusers to neighbors of similar age and gender, Dr Arluke found animal abusers were five times more likely to be arrested for violent crimes, three times more likely to commit drug-related crimes, "even three times more likely to get traffic tickets."
· In another recent study, 99% of animal abusers had convictions for other crimes.
· In that same study it was found 100% of people who committed sexual homicide had abused animals. (Remember, Jeffrey Dahmer started off as a kid abusing animals such as squirrels, then updated to companion animals and then humans)
· That study also revealed 61.5% of animal abusers had assaulted a human as well. (Clarke, J. P. 2002).
· 63.3% of inmates in one prison study who were in for violent crimes admitted to abusing animals. This doesn't include the ones who didn't admit it. (Schiff Louw Ascione, 1999)
· Police have found animal abuse is a better predictor of whether someone will commit sexual assault than previous convictions for murder or arson. (Clarke, J. P. 2002).
· A 1997 survey of 50 of the largest shelters for battered women in the United States found that 85% of women and 63% of children entering shelters discussed incidents of pet abuse in the family. (Ascione, F. R. 1997).
· 71% of women in a battered women's shelter reported their abuser either abused a household pet or threatened to abuse a pet. (Ascione, 1998). NC even passed a law including pets in domestic orders of protection.
· In another study 88% of child abusers also abused the animals in the home. (Ascione)
-In one study in eleven USA metropolitan cities, pet abuse was one of the four significant predictors for determining who was at highest risk for becoming a batterer. Moreover, many abused spouses delay leaving out of fear for their pets' safety and because they have nowhere to take them.(Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell, Public Health Department, the Johns Hopkins University from 1994 to 2000)
ANIMAL ABUSE OFTEN "CREATES" FUTURE ANIMAL ABUSERS, WHICH STARTS A NEW CYCLE AND A HORRIBLE FUTURE FOR KIDS IN ABUSIVE HOUSEHOLDS
· In a 1983 study, it was discovered that children were abusive to animals in more than one third of pet-owning families referred to New Jersey's Division of Youth and Family Services for suspected child abuse. (DeViney, L., J. Dickert and R. Lockwood. 1983).
· A 1995 study found 32% of the pet-owning victims of domestic abuse reported that one or more of their children had hurt or killed a pet (Ascione, F. R. 1995)
A list of the majority of the lousy animal laws pertaining to abuse currently in NY State
Please click on this link to bring up the official NYS website:
AGRICULTURE AND MARKETS LAWS ARTICLE 26
353-B - Appropriate shelter for dogs left outdoors.
353-C - Electrocution of fur-bearing animals prohibited.
353-D - Confinement of companion animals in vehicles: extreme temperatures.
354 - Sale of baby chicks and baby rabbits.
355 - Abandonment of animals.
356 - Failure to provide proper food and drink to impounded animal.
357 - Selling or offering to sell or exposing diseased animal.
358 - Selling disabled horses.
358-A - Live animals as prizes prohibited.
359 - Carrying animal in a cruel manner.
359-A - Transportation of horses.
360 - Poisoning or attempting to poison animals.
361 - Interference with or injury to certain domestic animals.
362 - Throwing substance injurious to animals in public place.
363 - Unauthorized possession of dogs presumptive evidence of larceny.
364 - Running horses on highway.
365 - Clipping or cutting the ears of dogs.
366 - Dog stealing.
366-A - Removing, seizing or transporting dogs for research purposes.
367 - Leaving state to avoid provisions of this article.
368 - Operating upon tails of horses unlawful.
369 - Interference with officers.
370 - Protection of the public from attack by wild animals and reptiles.
371 - Powers of peace officers.
372 - Issuance of warrants upon complaint.
373 - Seizure of animals lost, strayed, homeless, abandoned or improperly confined or kept.
374 - Humane destruction or other disposition of animals lost, strayed, homeless, abandoned or improperly confined or kept.
375 - Officer may take possession of animals or implements used in fights among animals.
376 - Disposition of animals or implements used in fights among animals.
377 - Disposal of dead animals.
377-A - Spaying and neutering of dogs and cats.
378 - Unlawful tampering with animal research.
379 - Prohibition of the selling of fur, hair, skin or flesh of a dog or cat.
MORE RESOURCES NEED TO BE ALLOCATED TO PROSECUTE ABUSERS
Punishment for animal abuse is not just about the way the laws are written but the way resources are allocated for prosecution of animal abuse cases. Many district attorney’s offices are understaffed and overworked, and animal cases are often pled down to lesser offenses. What one Long Island District Attorney (Kathleen Rice) was forced to do was ask for volunteers from her already overworked staff to work on these cases after hours. Finally, District Attorney Kathleen Rice was able to set up a special animal abuse unit because she knows quite well, as other prosecutors, attorneys, social workers, judges do and legal professionals do, of the animal abuse-human crimes connection*.
However, again, budget constraints, topped with horrendous laws such as the Agriculture and Markets Laws, and the loonggg wait for the Consolidated Animal Crimes Bill, which Kathleen Rice and ADA Jed Painter (brilliant, hard-working, animal-lover)
Offering to help is not feasible. I know of attorneys who offer their services to the DA’s offices for free to try to ensure the largest sentence possible for animal abusers, me included, but many DA’s offices feel the negatives in bringing in outsiders (especially the initial time commitment to train) outweigh the positives and could compromise the case since the defendants' attorney will make some arguments that outsiders tainted the case. However, prosecutors report that (of course) it would be a lot easier for the DA’s offices if the starting point for any plea bargaining discussion is 10, 20 years instead of just one or two.
The Suffolk County SPCA, not police, generally, are supposed to enforce animal abuse laws in Suffolk County, although NYS law provides for it. The SC SPCA is a non-profit, with volunteers who usually can't volunteer the number of hours a police officer would work for various reasons, including full-time outside jobs. This was the same thing in Nassau County with the NC SPCA, but diligence by DA Rice has changed that. This an ENORMOUS problem; right now (summer 2014) there is very little enforcement because the County supposedly won't indemnify the SC SPCA and its officers, as it had for 25+ years.
The difference between a misdemeanor and a felony can be even more significant than just years in jail. For instance, as lawyers as well as fans of shows like "CSI" know, DNA is a powerful tool in prosecuting criminal cases. Depending on the jurisdiction, the date, and the charges, a felony charge, but usually not a misdemeanor, might allow for DNA collection, and then matching and future matching of the perpetrator's DNA against past and future crime scenes and anywhere else relevant samples are taken. Felony convictions also carry harsher consequences outside of jail, including in job searching, Section 8 housing aid, welfare, Mecdicaid, etc. So, let's say, someone tortures and kills an animal today, serves two years (probably less with time off) for felony animal abuse and then gets out. Then, shortly after, a heinous rape of a 12 year old is committed. The DNA from the animal abuse prosecution may be on file and used to put this horrible perpetrator away for good.
Moreover, in practice, multiple misdemeanor convictions and/or pleas result in under two years of time served, if any time is served at all. The exception is for animal fighting but again, those are often pled down.
"The Shirley 23" seems to be standing as the seminal case on these enforcement, and lack thereof, issues. There, 23 bait dogs were found at Edward Erdman's home. They had multiple injuries, including missing jaws, broken bones and bite marks, were found in awful conditions in cages stacked on on top of another in a garage, just like what you see in a puppy mill. So, even if he was charged for each dog, the reality is that he would have served no more than two years. Erdman ended up skating, taking a plea bargain that infuriated people watching the case, including animal rescuers and the press. With lack of resources, the SC SPCA did not investigate further, and if so, would have found that was just the tip of the iceberg, and he and other parties should have been brought up on animal fighting charges under AML 351
Originally published: February 8, 2010 2:17 PM
Updated: February 8, 2010 2:19 PM
By DAVID J. LOPEZ firstname.lastname@example.org
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced Monday the creation of a unit dedicated to handling animal cruelty cases and the formation of a hotline for residents to report suspected cases of animal abuse.
The unit will handle misdemeanor and felony cases including animal abandonment, neglect, severe physical abuse and domestic violence-related abuse "such as violence exacted against a significant other's pet," the district attorney said.
Prosecutors in the Animal Cruelty Unit also will give presentations to animal rights groups and train law enforcement agencies.
"This newly created unit will give a voice to the victims of animal abuse, and send the message that the abuse and neglect of animals is not tolerated in Nassau County," Rice said in a statement.
Nassau residents who suspect animal abuse are urged to call the hotline at (516) 680-8624. Callers will remain anonymous.
Here is a sad poem about what happens when you do not have id on your dog and fail to realize he or she can wander far further than you think.
You must always have a collar on him with updated information on it. The metal tag from his/her shots should also be on there; should he/she be found and there is no ID, the finder can call the veterinarian and the tag may be more durable than many out there. Also, get a license for him her-it will work in a similar way as the vet tag and, at least, local animal control will be readily able to find you if he/she is found and brought to the pound. Get a tag a place that engraves it.
A microchip should almost always (as per vet) be put in for Houdinis that like to escape and run around. Ideally, when you initially spay/neuter him/her, have the chip put in then. You should also get a GPS collar for Houdinis, especially if you are moving and he/she could get lost. Buy the more expensive ones with range like a telephone GPS. The $99 ones have little range.
Today is the death day of nobody’s dog
Nothing will mark it but a note in the log
I’m faceless and nameless and no tears will fall
For I know in your world I have no worth at all
To you, my sweet someone, I’m a friend and a dear
We ran the wind daily and you held me so near
But the gate was left open – I chanced a walk on my own
I’d have cowered in fear if only I’d known
I know how you cried on the night that I strayed
I know how you searched, I know how you prayed
But I went to a pound far far from our home
Where I crouched in despair in my kennel alone
I know that you phoned for I heard your dear voice
And I hoped you would hear me so I barked myself hoarse
Although I’m a Lab cross with stockings all white
On their form I’m a Staff cross – the description’s not right
So they said I’m not here and I sank to my bed
My kennel cough’s worse and I can’t raise my head
The rescue came yesterday but they hadn’t a place
If only you’d come to search for me here
You would have known me at once, you would have sensed I was near
You would have sorted my ills, you would have carried me home
And I promise our God no more would I roam
Now my eyes plead for mercy for my seven days are done
And I am waiting with dread for the final vet run
No arms will caress me as they inject me to death
No words will comfort me as I take my last breath
When the body man comes, it is fitting I’m found
In a bin bag in the freezer in the depths of the pound
Thrown away like the rubbish - no respect and no shame
Denied even the time to find you again
My loyalty and devotion they did cruelly betray
Without microchip or name tag, I am just a dispensable stray
Once waggy-tailed, once proud, beloved and free
Oh Dad look with pain at what mankind’s done to me
* Nothing on this website is meant to create or infer an attorney-client relationship, nor is the information meant to be taken as legal advice. It is given as a convenience so that visitors have an educated idea about who to contact and what information they should gather to obtain the best legal advice and/or to take steps they are comfortable with to help curb animal abuse.
We will be adding more information, such as that on our old hosting site under www.CarolRyderLaw.com, soon. We will also be conducting more animal law seminars. Please keep checking as we post the information on the site.
Here are some examples of what we are doing now, and a fundraising event is scheduled for February 19, 2017 in Staten Island