A few years ago, the New York Farm Bureau — a volunteer organization dedicated to serving and strengthening agriculture in the state — teamed up with the New York State Humane Association. Together, they convinced state legislators and the governor that a new law created a to help provide law enforcement training in existing animal cruelty laws would be worthwhile.
The law mandates that the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets work with the Municipal Police Training Council and the Division of Criminal Justice Services to:
- develop training,
- create materials and
- provide information regarding animal cruelty statutes for New York’s police agencies, officers and district attorneys.
“Crimes against animals are a significant public safety, health and quality of life concern for communities across New York State” said Susan McDonough of the New York State Humane Association. “Improved access and understanding of the state’s cruelty statutes will enhance the efforts of officers and ensure better outcomes for animals and people.”
Unfortunately, nothing has transpired due to a lack of funding in the state budget since then. The New York Farm Bureau now says that is not acceptable.
A top priority
Back in January, the organization issued its list of legislative priorities for 2019. Among other things, the organization pledged to support training for authorities and prosecutors that investigate animal cruelty laws included in the current statute in Agriculture and Markets Law.
“Farmers take animal care seriously and believe law enforcement could be better equipped to deal with abuse cases by receiving adequate training on Agriculture and Markets Law,” said Jeff Williams, New York Farm Bureau’s Director of Public Policy.
It makes sense. These laws are complicated.
New York’s animal cruelty laws
To begin with, look how the state defines animal cruelty. In Article 26, Section 353 of the Agriculture and Markets law, it is classified as activity in which someone:
- overdrives, overloads, tortures or cruelly beats or unjustifiably injures, maims, mutilates or kills any animal, whether wild or tame, and whether belonging to himself or to another; or
- deprives any animal of necessary sustenance, food or drink, or neglects or refuses to furnish it such sustenance or drink; or
- causes, procures or permits any animal to be overdriven, overloaded, tortured, cruelly beaten, or unjustifiably injured, maimed, mutilated or killed, or to be deprived of necessary food or drink; or
- wilfully sets on foot, instigates, engages in, or in any way furthers any act of cruelty to any animal, or any act tending to produce such cruelty.
Then there are the laws pertaining to aggravated animal cruelty, and related offenses set forth in Section 353-b through Section 353-f.
Of course, authorities and lawyers aren’t completely without guidance when it comes to this topic. Here are just a few of the available resources.
The New York City Bar Association’s Committee on Legal Issues Pertaining to Animals makes comprehensive information available online. This information is specifically tailored for prosecutors, defense lawyers and judges.
The New York State Humane Association also makes How to Investigate Animal Cruelty in NY State – A Manual of Procedures available online. This guide covers numerous topics of interest and use to authorities including:
- how to receive and investigate a complaint,
- all NYS laws pertinent to animals – along with explanations,
- pertinent case law
- basic animal care standards
It also includes:
- appendices including forms that can be used in cruelty investigations,
- pamphlets on various animal care topics,
- relevant articles
The bottom line is that knowledge is power — especially when it comes to fighting animal cruelty.