As his tenure drew to an end last year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg vetoed legislation that would have created a registry for animal abusers in New York City. Apparently, though, it takes more than a veto to keep an animal cruelty law down. On Tuesday, the New York City Council voted unanimously to override the Bloomberg veto and make the animal abuse registry a reality, the New York World reported.
Assuming that new Mayor Bill De Blasio signs it — and most expect that he will — the new law would go into effect in October. Any NYC resident with an animal abuse conviction within the United States will be required to self-register. Those in the registry will be banned from owning or living with an animal. Failure to register or violating the ban is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.
Former Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., who sponsored the legislation its first time through, was delighted at the vote. “I’m very proud of them for doing that,” he told the World. “And now we’re going to give this new mayor and this new council a real tool to help protect animals.”
Members of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, which had backed the legislation and at one point offered $10,000 to help with its implementation, were also delighted at the new law. Spokesperson Lisa Franzetta said in an interview with the New York World that with the new law, NYC has become the largest jurisdiction to create such a registry.
But not everyone’s happy, including some that you might expect to be. The ASPCA, for instance, has announced that it sees the registry as well-intentioned but impractical, and that it would rather see New York put more effort into enforcing existing laws.
“Animal abuse registries have a laudable goal, but there is little evidence to suggest that they provide enhanced protection to animals in jeopardy,” the group said in a statement.
If the law does get the new mayor’s signature, there’s a lot of work to be done to make it into a reality. The new mayor has to decide which city agency will be responsible for launching and managing the registry, and the bureaucratic infrastructure has to be created. Legal registries like this are complex beasts, and seemingly small mistakes of identity can have harsh consequences for the people involved.
What do you think? Is a registry the best way to address animal cruelty, or is it just another piece of legal window dressing? Let us know what you think below.
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