Westchester County Legislators

A+ A A-

Newsroom

Legislators Cunzio, Perez Move to Amend Animal Abuser Registry Law

“Pebbles” the rescued pitbull puppy made an appearance at a Westchester County Board of Legislators Committee meeting on Monday where legislators were discussing Westchester’s Animal Abuser Registry. Pebbles was accompanied by Officer Ernie Lungano from the SPCA of Westchester who cared for Pebbles after she was rescued from an abusive owner who was arrested for throwing and kicking the puppy. A neighbor who witnessed and captured the video of the abuse alerted Yonkers Police, prompting the arrest. Pebbles was also accompanied by Yonkers Police Officer Neville Bennett who adopted Pebbles last week.


At the joint meeting of the Public Safety Committee, Chaired by Legislator Margaret Cunzio (C) Mount Pleasant, North Castle, Pleasantville, and the Legislation Committee Chaired by Legislator Virginia Perez (D) Yonkers. During the discussion, legislators questioned Captain Mark Busche from the Westchester County Department of Public Safety about why after 6 years on the books, The animal abuser registry only has 2 names listed as animal abusers when a far greater number of animal abuse cases have been adjudicated in that time including a man who pleaded guilty to raping a golden retriever and was sentenced to more than six years in prison back in 2013. Captain Busche indicated that there may be some gaps in the way the registry is administrated. The Westchester County Animal Abuser Registry was created by the Board of Legislators in 2012 through the passage of a local law. The way the law is written requires a judge to place an offender on the registry. There are questions as to whether that happens when an accused abuser accepts a plea bargain to a charge that is less severe than animal cruelty.

 

(L to R): Legislator Virginia Perez,
Pebbles, Legislator Margaret Cunzio

County Attorney John Nonna also appeared at the committee meeting and offered his department’s help in amending the law to close any existing loopholes.


Legislator Cunzio has opened her home to foster over 250 cats, kittens, dogs and puppies waiting for adoption over the last 15 years. She has also rescued and transported 231 cats, 29, dogs, 9 rabbits and 1 guinea pig to “no kill” shelters in that time. Following the committee meeting Legislator Cunzio said, “It is time for us to re-examine the legislation that the animal abuser registry is based on. The registry was intended to provide important information for the pet community to ensure that we know who the animal abusers are and therefore can avoid putting animals in harm’s way.” Cunzio added, “Research shows us that behaviors like animal cruelty are often an indicator of sociopathic tendencies that could just as easily be directed toward children, the elderly, a spouse or others. It is time to give the animal abuser registry the power it was intended to have in order to keep pets out of the hands of known animal abusers.”


Legislator Perez, a dog owner and animal lover echoed those sentiments saying, “We will make sure that all county entities from courts to the district attorney to the county police are well coordinated and empowered to enforce this important provision. Regardless of what crime they plead guilty to, I want to see mandatory inclusion on the animal abuser registry for anyone charged with animal cruelty. It has been said that the greatness of a society can be judged on how they care for their most vulnerable. We have the tools to help protect these animals and it is time to make sure this registry is being used properly.”

 
TOP PICTURE (L to R): Officer Ernie Lungano of SPCA of Westchester rescued Pebbles after she was abused with Officer Neville Bennett of Yonkers Police Department who adopted Pebbles last week

 

Newsroom Keyword Search