Orange County Executive Signs Rocky’s Law at Warwick Valley Humane Society Animal Shelterwvhs
By Roger Gavan
WARWICK — On Friday, June 5, Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus signed legislation that will provide the county with some of the stiffest animal cruelty laws in the United States.
The signing ceremony, also attended by District Attorney David Hoovler, Sheriff Carl E. DuBois and County Clerk Annie Rabbitt, Orange County Legislator John Vero (R-Chester), Town of Warwick Supervisor Michael Sweeton and Warwick Valley Humane Society president Suzyn Barron, took place at the Warwick Valley Humane Society Animal Shelter.
The case Rocky’s Law is named after an abused three-year-old Pit Bull from Newburgh, which had to be euthanized earlier this year because of its poor health. The dog was left outside for five weeks in winter weather while its owner was on vacation.
The law provides that anyone in Orange County convicted of animal abuse must register with the Sheriff’s office within five days of their conviction or after being released from jail if they are incarcerated.
The penalties Not reporting convictions will be a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a maximum fine of $2,000 for each day offenders fail to register.
Abusers will stay on the registry for 15 years, but will be reinstated for life if they are convicted again for abusing an animal.
Convicted animal abusers will be required to pay a $125 fee to cover any costs for maintaining Orange County’s registry and could be incarcerated for up to a year, and fined as much as $5,000, if they obtain another animal while included on the registry.
In addition, any person who gives or sells the animal to the offender will face a maximum $5,000 fine.
Orange County’s registry will include names and photos of convicted animal abusers. The county will also post links of animal abuse registries to neighboring counties.
Rocky’s Law was introduced by Orange County Legislator Michael Anagnostakis (R-Newburgh) in April and was unanimously passed by Orange County Legislators last month.
‘Ripple effect’ “I think this law is going to have a real ripple effect,” said Neuhaus. “If you are abusing animals, there are going to be strong consequences in Orange County. It gives law enforcement another tool to fight animal cruelty and it sends a message that we will not tolerate it.”
Barron added that one of the most important features of Rocky’s Law is that this registry will be available to all agencies since animal abuse has a direct correlation to human violence, including child and elder abuse.
In addition, multiple charges in animal cruelty cases are often consolidated and defendants rarely are sentenced to the full extent of the law.
“We were so pleased,” she said, “to be chosen as the location by County Executive Neuhaus for the signing of the bill into law due to our involvement in assisting law enforcement in the alleviation, investigation and prosecution of far too many animal cruelty cases over the years.”
Meanwhile, in Albany In a more recent development, state Sen. Terrence Murphy (R-Yorktown) announced on June 10 that the Senate had passed a bill crafted to prevent those who abuse animals from committing similar acts in the future in the Senate.
The new law authored by Murphy would increase the penalty for multiple convictions of torturing, killing or failing to provide sustenance to an animal to a felony, if convicted within five years from the date of a prior conviction.
The bill is now before the state Assembly.