The 1st New York State Animal Advocacy Day launched by Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R,C,I-Schenectady-Saratoga) and Sen. Greg Ball (R,C-Patterson) has already reaped results.
It's a very significant thing that this animal advocacy [day] proved its worth in just a couple weeks, said Tedisco. "Bills that languished for many years are now passed."
The first bill in a series of proposed legislation to strengthen Buster's Law (created in 1999) passed the legislature and awaits action by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The bill, sponsored by Tedisco and Assemblyman Joseph Lentol (D-Brooklyn) increases criminal penalties for animal fighting.
The bill targets animal fighting events, making it a crime to even attend as a spectator. According to Tedisco, the penalty for spectators at animal fighting events has been increased to a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to three months in jail and a $500 fine for the first offense, and up to a year in jail and $1,000 fine for second offense.
"This bill was at the top of the list for people to lobby their legislators and now sends a message that if you engage in the department of fighting animals there will be a felony penalty for that," said Tedisco. "That sends a message we're not going to put up with animal cruelty."
The next bill Tedisco hopes to pass would require that anyone convicted of Buster's Law undergo a psychiatric evaluation and be placed on a registry of animal abusers.
"[Animal cruelty] is a bridge crime. We know that people who abuse and hurt animals in this way go on to hurt human beings," said Tedisco.
Tedisco hopes the passage of the animal fighting legislation will pave the way for future bills.
"I think this might open the flood gates to send a heightened message that we'll have to continue to do those things to protect our companion pets," said Tedisco.