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N.Y. could lead nation with pet protection law

May 9, 2012
Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

So much of what goes on in Albany seems unhinged from the reality of every day life in New York. And so it is worthy of note that the Senate has passed a bill with a direct and positive effect on everyone living every where in the state.

The bill elevates the crime of stealing a licensed dog or a cat to a felony - which puts a higher priority on it in the eyes of law enforcement and greatly increases the penalty.

Dogs and cats are stolen and sold for many reasons: to be bait in dog fighting, for puppy-mills, to be food for exotic animals and for their fur for clothing and accessories said Sen. Carl L. Marcellino, a Republican from Syosset, who sponsored the bill.

He contrasts those heinous purposes with the reality, as he put it, that "Our pets are a loving, vital part of the family."

Yes, and right now, there is virtually no risk to the person who steals a dog or cat. Even if caught, the crime is considered serious only if the provable cash value of the pet is at least $1,000.

Otherwise, well, the loss of the pet is just too bad.

The bill, says Marcellino, takes into account not only the monetary but the emotional value of a pet.

As a Class E felony, pet theft would carry a penalty of up to four years in prison - and rightly so.

"It is impossible to place a dollar value on the love and companionship provided by our pets. Those who cruelly steal pets for heinous purposes deserve to be tried and convicted of a felony," Marcellino said.

Yes, they do.

We know there are folks out there who do not own pets and who don't realize the anguish families go through when pets disappear. Perhaps it is enough to explain to them that pet theft is, indeed, a growing problem that just can't be ignored.

In fact, the American Kennel Club's database indicates a steep upward trend in pet thefts in the United States, with a 49 percent increase in the number of pets reported stolen in the first seven months of 2011 as compared to 2010, a press release from Marcellino notes.

The legislation will never see the governor's pen to be signed into law without being approved as well by the state Assembly, where it is sponsored by Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, a Democrat from Manhattan.

If enacted, it will be the toughest pet protection law on the books nationwide.

As you know, New York leads the country in so many things that are not at all worth bragging about.

Here's hoping Assembly Democrats recognize the pet protection bill is something positive they can do for New Yorkers and be proud to lead the nation in doing it.



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