Suffolk County's new animal abuser registry has gone live, allowing people to search online for names of those who have been convicted of felony or misdemeanor animal crimes.
, the Suffolk County Legislature's outgoing majority leader, championed the registry.
The list is managed and maintained by the Suffolk County SPCA. All convicted animal abusers will now have to pay an annual fee of $50 to register their names, aliases, addresses and submit photographs for the SCPA’s database. They must update their personal information annually or at change of address. Appearance in the registry is mandated for five years following an abuser’s incarceration or judgment. Those failing to register during the period are subject to a $1,000 fine and or up to a year in jail.
Cooper also secured passage of a law to enhance the impact of the registry by requiring all pet stores, breeders and animal shelters operating in Suffolk County to request photo identification from anyone seeking to purchase or adopt a pet (mammals, birds or reptiles). The stores then have to check those names against the animal abuser registry. The goal is to make it more difficult for convicted abusers to acquire another victim.
The American Psychiatric Association considers animal cruelty one of the diagnostic criteria of conduct disorder, and the U.S. Department of Justice uses animal abuse as a marker for youth at risk of violent behavior.
“I’m thrilled to finally see the registry online,” says Cooper. “I’m also happy that there isn’t anybody on it right now. But sadly, that will likely change all too soon. When it does, then I hope all of us—two-legged and four-legged alike—will be able to feel a little safer.”