The heinous abuse of an 18-month-old tabby cat, Buster, 14 years ago, sparked something in Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R,C,I-Schenectady-Saratoga), who said he was horrified by the acts of the Schenectady teenager who doused the young cat in kerosene and burned it to death.
Pets are an important part of our family, they give us unconditional love, they take bullets for law enforcement, they go into burning buildings and they help track terrorists, said Tedisco.
It would take two years, but in 1999, Tedisco led a movement to create Buster's Law, which created a felony category of "aggravated cruelty to animals" punishable by up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
"I was the moving force for the passage of what was a historic piece of legislation, maybe the first in the country and certainly the first in New York State," said Tedisco.
Tedisco said animal abuse is becoming almost like an "epidemic" and requires further education, awareness and legislation to halt it. So he, along with Sen. Greg Ball (R, C-Patterson) launched the 1st New York State Animal Advocacy Day, slated for June 1 from 9:30 a.m. to noon at the Legislative Office Building in Albany.
"We've been active with this bill and come 1,000 miles, but the reason for this day is because we have probably another 1,000 miles to go, or more," said Tedisco.
Tedisco cited the recent case where Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy secured a one-year prison sentence for the man convicted of crushing a puppy to death behind a couch.
"DA Murphy just got that one-year victory; that would have been unheard of 11 years ago," said Tedisco.
Animal abuse is often a sign of trouble to come, said Tedisco.
"Animal abuse is a bridge crime; they go on to hurt human beings," said Tedisco. "Columbine murders, Ted Bundy, they all had a history of abusing animals."