The writer is a state assemblyman representing parts of Schenectady and Saratoga counties.
Last year, we made history with the first-ever New York State Animal Advocacy Day in Albany.
On that day in June 2011, I, along with legislators from both sides of the aisle, law enforcement, animal advocates and hundreds of pet owners joined together to call for the toughest animal cruelty laws in the nation to protect our pets.
That day, we supported passage of a new law to make it a crime to be a spectator at an animal fighting bout – a bill that was stalled in committee.
People spoke to their legislators that day and it passed the Senate and sailed through the Assembly a few weeks later. In August, Gov. Cuomo signed it into law.
Animal advocates, pet owners and New Yorkers from across the state spoke, and our elected officials listened – and a bill to protect animals from the barbaric cruelty of animal fighting became law.
Most of the lobbyists who walk the halls of Albany are paid but animal advocates are not. They are volunteers who care about protecting our pets and all members of our families. Animal Advocacy Day is purely a people and paw-powered event.
Everywhere I go, people talk to me about their pets and how much they care for them and would never want to see cruelty inflicted upon an innocent animal.
According to the Humane Society of the U.S., 39 percent of American households own at least one dog and 33 percent have at least one cat.
Unfortunately, there are some sick and twisted individuals who do not see the value of such life, resulting in animal abuse, cruelty and neglect, which occur far too often, leading to unnecessary pain and suffering to animals.
In 1999, I led a statewide effort to collect over 118,000 signatures to pass the landmark Buster’s Law creating the felony category of “aggravated cruelty to animals,” punishable by up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine.