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Consolidated Animal Crimes Bill pushed in NY

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Nassau County (NY) District Attorney Kathleen Rice will be pushing state legislators to back her Consolidated Animal Crimes bill tomorrow “Humane Lobby Day,” in an attempt to equalize punishment for abusers. “Unfortunately some animal abusers escape the punishment their deserve because animal protections are ‘tucked away’ in the state’s agricultural laws beside bans on horses walking on plank roads and cheese marketing,” according to major local animal advocates, who noted that Rice’s bill to have crimes against animals transferred to the penal code, and “bring regulations into the 21st century” has been stalled in Albany for almost two years. Clauses in Rice’s bill include increasing the maximum prison sentence for felony animal cruelty from 2 years to 7; increasing the maximum sentence for felony dog fighting from 4 to 7 years; opens the door for gathering DNA and fingerprints from misdemeanor offenders (as well as major felons); permits prosecutors to seek “security” from defendants to pay for the care of abused animals during the court case; and paves the way for officers to be trained in animal laws. “This bill has been looked at, poured over, edited and is ready to go,” she stated at a news conference in Mineola yesterday. In the meantime, the New York Farm Bureau has expressed its “discomfort” over Rice’s bill, citing fears that farmers “might be reprted and arrested by people who misunderstand livestock management,” stated senior associate director Kelly Young. “Under the penal law, farmers would have to fight the courts. But under agricultural law they can ask to have a state veterinarian evaluate allegations.”

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