When an individual is released from prison for sexual abuse involving a minor, his information is immediately posted on a sexual abuse central registry. This is done for the public good. We love our children and want to protect them.
We as a nation claim to be animal lovers, therefore, I believe it's time to put our emotions into action and afford animals the same protections we have for children.
Recently, the Erie County Legislature held a public hearing regarding Legislator Terrence D. McCracken's introduction of a countywide animal abuse registry. This registry is modeled after the sexual abuse registry above. State Sen. Mark J. Grisanti last month introduced legislation in New York that would create the same registry. To date five states have pending legislation that if passed into law would create a statewide registry. The law would require convicted animal abusers to register annually. In addition, the law would prevent abusers from possessing, adopting, purchasing, owning or exercising control over an animal.
Abuse is abuse regardless if it's a private citizen starving his dog, cat, reptile or bird to death or beating it until it is nearly dead. Animal abuse is certainly not discriminatory; it extends to all animals. However, the farm and pet trade industries, two of the worst abusers, would like nothing more than to be exempt from this proposed legislation. Could it be they have something to hide? If these industries are indeed humane, as they claim, then why do they feel so threatened by this legislation?
Growing up in the country and driving by the many farms near my home, I never imagined the countless animals that suffered and died needlessly because no one, myself included, understood their suffering. Of course the Animal Welfare Act passed by Congress was in its infancy. Even if and when such abuse was reported, the authorities had little experience in dealing with it. How often do we read in the news of farm animals left to starve and freeze to death when their owners abandon the farm? It happens way too often. This is precisely the reason why we have such compassionate organizations as Farm Sanctuary, located in Watkins Glen. Seeing these animals suffer really tugged at my heart as I felt there had to be a way to prevail this from happening.
There is not much different in the pet trade industry. Retail, wholesale establishments and auctions need to be accountable for their actions. Puppy mills are big business these days. After attending numerous protests and workshops over the past few years I learned a great deal about the industry. Recently, a bill was introduced in the State Legislature by Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal that would crack down on these breeding facilities. Puppy mills are notorious entities that breed females over and over until they are no longer any use to the industry. When they are no longer profitable, the dogs are destroyed. Conditions at these facilities are poor, and often unsanitary.
I would also extend this legislation to the entertainment and research industries. Wherever nonhumans are present, this legislation ought to apply. The animal abuse registry needs to be extended to not only private citizens but to all industries that have animals in their possession. To an animal lover such as myself, this would be an advancement in protecting our nonhuman family. I look forward to the day when animal abuse is a thing of the past.
Jeffery Termini, an animal lover from Tonawanda, has volunteered for the SPCA of Erie County and is a member of HEART.