Suffolk SPCA Chief Roy Gross, Sgt. Regina Benfante and
Legislator Jon Cooper, with Justin, a Doberman mix who was
rescued from a Centereach home were he was neglected and
malnourished. Justin, who now weighs a healthy 55 pounds, was
only 19 pounds when he was saved, and got his name since he was
found “just in time.” Under a bill proposed by Mr. Cooper,
residents convicted of animal abuse will be listed on a public
A county lawmaker is looking to create a public registry of convicted animal abusers in a move that would make Suffolk County the first municipality in the nation to create such a list to shame abusers and prevent them from adopting animals.
The bill, introduced by county Legislator Jon Cooper (D-Lloyd Harbor), first needs the support of a simple majority, or 10 votes in the 18-member Legislature, in order to become law. It could come to a vote as early as this fall.
If passed, the names, aliases, addresses and photographs of animal abusers would compiled in a searchable database, much like the state’s sex offender registry.
The convicted abusers would pay a $50 annual fee for upkeep of the registry, and those who fail to register would be charged $1,000 or face jail time. The bill would also require pet stores and animal shelters to check the registry before allowing anyone to purchase or adopt an animal, and would prohibit giving an animal to a convicted abuser.
Legislator Daniel Losquadro (R-Shoreham), who represents much of northeastern Brookhaven Town, said he would have to consider budgetary issues before committing to supporting the bill.
He said he must examine whether the county’s information technology department would be able to handle the workload demanded by maintaining the registry.
“To me, right now, it comes down to a question of finances,” Mr. Losquadro said. “The Suffolk County SPCA has been very active and we’ve worked extensively with them to try to prevent animal abuse, but right now we’re facing very serious budget problems.”
But Roy Gross, who heads the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said his nonprofit agency will offer to maintain the registry at no cost to the county or taxpayers.
“This is so necessary,” Mr. Gross said. “People like this in society