Democratic Caucus of the Monroe County Legislature

GOP Defers Responsibility and Leadership, Rejects Animal Abuser Registry

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Rochester, New York – July 30, 2013.  Republicans in the Monroe County Legislature killed a proposal to prevent convicted animal abusers from obtaining new pets and create an animal abuser registry in Monroe County.

Earlier this month, Legislator Willie Joe Lightfoot (D-Rochester) introduced legislation to create an animal abuser registry to prevent convicted animal abusers from obtaining more pets.  Upon being convicted, a person would be entered onto the registry and would be banned from obtaining a pet for ten years.  Upon a second conviction, they would be banned for life.  At the Monroe County Legislature’s Agenda/Charter Committee meeting last night, Republicans voted the measure down, instead deferring to the out of session State Legislature, frustrating both local animal advocates and Democratic legislators.

“Quite simply, I am disappointed in their lack of leadership,” said Legislator Lightfoot, the author of the legislation. “For many county residents, pets are part of the family and they want to know that we are doing everything in our power to protect them and give them a voice.  The outpouring of support we received from animal lovers at our public meeting last week, as well as at the committee meeting last night, proves that. Rest assured, we will continue to stand up for those who can’t speak for themselves, our beloved pets included.”

“Last night Republican legislators shirked their responsibility to protect animals in our county,” Democratic Leader Carrie Andrews (D-Rochester) said. “Our county has a tradition of being a leader on issues in the state.  We did not wait for the state to act on a smoking ban, a texting while driving ban, or even Legislator Tucciarello’s synthetic drug ban, and we should not wait on animal abuse.  We don't know when the State will act, if ever. We had an opportunity to lead and the Republicans squandered it.  We in the Democratic Caucus share the frustration of the animal advocates that came out in support of this legislation.”

The legislation passed by the State Senate which the county GOP touts is seriously deficient. It does not even require someone convicted of killing service or police dogs to register. With the State Legislature out of session, it is unclear when any legislation would be passed, or even if it would pass.  Sending a Memorializing Resolution to the State Legislature encouraging them to pass a bill, as Legislator Mike Rockow suggested last night, is merely symbolic and likely to have no effect. It certainly will not protect the pets of Monroe County for the foreseeable future. 

Democrats are currently drafting legislation to restrict puppy mills and take other actions that will protect the pets of our county.  The members of the Agenda/Charter Committee are Republicans John Howland, Mike Rockow, and Jeff McCann.  The Democrats are Cindy Kaleh and Mike Patterson.