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May 13 - May 21, 2014

Animal Abuser Registry, a Uniquely Stupid Idea 

By James Hufnagel

May 13, 2014

"Politics are not my concern... They impress me as a dog's life without a dog's decencies." - Rudyard Kipling

When you think Republican, you think smaller government, lessened government intrusion and reduced government bureaucracy, right? 

Think again.

State legislator John Ceretto (R) of Lewiston is co-sponsoring something called the Animal Abuser Registration Act (A.2905) in the New York State Assembly. According to the language of the proposed bill, those convicted of animal abuse must register with the county sheriff like sex offenders are required to do. Registrants would need to provide the following information for inclusion on the animal abuse registry: name, aliases, date of birth, sex, race, height, weight, eye color, driver's license number, home address, and "a description of any tattoos, scars or other distinguishing features on the animal abuser's body that would assist in identifying the animal abuser."

It's not anything new that pets in Lewiston get better food and better health care than the average child or senior citizen in the city of Niagara Falls. Now, it seems, they're getting better representation in Albany as well. That's because in his three and a half years in the Assembly, Ceretto hasn't sponsored a single bill specifically intended to help children or seniors. For that matter, he never took much of an interest in animals either before getting elected to the state legislature, except for his own two big pooches, Butchy and Rupert (Murdoch?).

"I'm sponsoring this legislation to give everyone who has pets the information they need to keep them safe," declared Ceretto, but the text of his bill reveals that, if it became law, it would do virtually nothing of the sort.

What are the odds your cat or dog (and the act only "protects" companion animals, defined by law as cats and dogs, not horses, alpacas, guinea pigs, gold fish or parrots) is going to be accosted by an animal abuser lurking in a dark alley? Practically nil. How many people would check such a registry to see if any of their neighbors have the inclination to kick their cat or throw a beer bottle at their dog, and of what value would that information be anyway? Would it empower you to warn your pet to stay away from Mr. Abuser's yard? Ceretto's contention that somehow this law would provide the "the information they need to keep (pets) safe" is ludicrous.

"People who abuse cats and dogs are rotten. They make me so mad," says John, who works for Tyson Foods Inc.


It seems the sole protection this bill offers, other than disallowing a registrant from contact with cats or dogs for all of five years after their conviction, is to require that "all animal shelters and pet dealers shall examine the central registry to confirm that any potential owners are not registrants. No companion animal shall be sold, exchanged or otherwise transferred to an animal abuser listed on the registry."

Notably, there is no requirement in the legislation that mandates veterinary hospitals or boarding kennels and catteries (yes, that is a real word) to perform background checks utilizing the sheriff offices' animal abuser registries on prospective employees. That's probably because Ceretto and his like-minded colleagues correctly perceived that the response of the New York State Veterinary Medical Association lobbyists to this ridiculously cumbersome government exercise in red-tape undoubtedly would be, "Please knock it off!".

"A county sheriff shall forward all registration information obtained from animal abusers to the Central Registry of Animal Abusers. Registration information contained in the Central Registry of Animal Abusers shall be made available to the public through internet access, telephone access, written access and in person access." 

When you think of all that "access", you would normally think "bottomless Albany money pit" but the fact is this bill would be an unfunded mandate. Of course, local municipalities would be required to pay for the law's enforcement.

We here at the Reporter love animals like everyone does, and think animal abuse is disgusting and reprehensible. It's just our opinion that the hypocrisy inherent in this proposed legislation is enough to make you cough up a hairball. In a society that subjects chickens, hogs and cows to unspeakable terror before killing them and converting them into fast food, where you can pick up traps in the local Walmart suitable for crushing to death little furry critters and far too often we treat our pets better than we treat our fellow human beings, it's time to get a grip and consider the plight of all of God's creatures.

Where does it all end? Should the government maintain a shoplifter registry so that stores can screen shoplifters at the door? With advent of face recognition and similar technologies, this is not a far-fetched scenario. 

Maybe voters should maintain a registry of pandering politicians who fritter away tax dollars in shameless attempts to win the favor of one or another fringe constituencies. Now there's a registry we would like to see happen.






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