The Suffolk County Legislature unanimously approved a bill Tuesday to create a law establishing a county registry for animal abuse offenders, the first of its kind in the nation.
The new law allows the county to create a public registry of convicted animal abusers, in which the names, aliases, addresses and photographs of animal abusers would compiled in a searchable database, much like the state’s sex offender registry. The convicted abusers would pay a $50 annual fee for upkeep of the registry, and those who fail to register would be charged $1,000 or face jail time.
A public hearing for a second bill, which would require pet stores and animal shelters to check the registry before allowing anyone to purchase or adopt an animal, was tabled for a later date.
If approved, that law would prohibit pet stores from selling an animal to a convicted abuser.
Roy Gross, who heads the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said his group, which deals with over 2,000 animal abuse cases in the county per year, believes the animal abuse registry will help to save animals.
“Most serial killers began as animal abusers,” he said. “It’s a known fact: people who hurt animals hurt people too.”