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Animal abusers in N.Y. may have to register like sex offenders

By Richard Simon, Los Angeles Times –

WASHINGTON — New York City could become the largest jurisdiction to establish a registry for animal abusers, similar to the ones for sex offenders, if it approves a law prompted by a man who threw his dog out of a third-story window.

The measure introduced in the City Council this week would require convicted animal abusers to provide their names, home addresses and photographs for an online registry, available to animal shelters and pet shops. The abusers would be barred from owning animals.

“We want to keep defenseless animals out of the hands of known abusers,” said the measure’s chief sponsor, Councilman Peter F. Vallone Jr. The bill comes after a 30-year-old Queens man killed his pet Shar-Pei last year by throwing it out of his third-floor window. The man was sentenced to 364 days in jail and barred from owning an animal for three years.

Three New York counties — Suffolk, Albany and Rockland — have established animal abuse registries. Registry bills have been introduced in nine states this year, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

Still, the measures have been difficult to pass. A proposal for a registry in Virginia died in a legislative committee last year after the state police estimated it would cost about $1 million to set it up. A bill to create such a registry in California, introduced in 2010, didn’t make it through the Legislature, partly because of concerns about its cost. And in Florida, the proposed Dexter’s law, named after a beaten kitten, died in legislative committee this year.

Under the proposed New York City law, convicted abusers who fail to register or own an animal while listed in the registry would be subject to a maximum year behind bars and $1,000 fine.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund says the registries can reduce the number of abused animals and serve as an early warning system for potentially violent criminals, citing cases of serial killers who had tortured animals as children.

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