Anti-Cruelty Laws Must Cover Farm Animals
A triumph for the animals! The felony cruelty (Buster) bill passed. As of Nov. 1, 1999, it will be a Class E Felony in New York State for any person, without justifiable purpose, to intentionally kill or intentionally cause serious physical injury to a “companion animal.” Individuals who break the law will be arrested and fingerprinted, so a permanent record is on file.
We all have worked for this for a long time. Please call your legislators and thank them if they voted for it.
But we are not done yet. Our effort for the next legislative session must be to enhance this legislation. Laws similar to this one have been in effect for many years in over 20 other states; however, due to opposition by the NYS Farm Bureau, “farm animals,” such as horses, cows, sheep, goats, etc., were not included in New York’s legislation, and will not be afforded the same protection as “companion animals.”
As a police officer for 21 years, my expertise has been investigating animal cruelty, and am one of the few people who teaches the anti-cruelty laws to other officers, animal control officers, judges, and veterinarians throughout the state. Within the past few years, I have heard from police about cases that include horses having broom handles shoved up their rectums, a cow being dragged behind a pickup truck, and a pig being beaten to death by college kids as part of a fraternity initiation. In addition, farm animals, such as goats and chickens, are being tortured in satanic worship rituals. Sadly, crimes such as these cannot be considered a felony under the new legislation because they involve “farm animals” and will remain unclassified misdemeanors. Little documentation and no fingerprinting of those responsible will continue to be the norm — allowing them to move on to more serious crimes.
While I understand the Farm Bureau’s concern about protecting farmers from being arrested for normal farm practices, the anti-cruelty laws do not pertain to those standard farming practices. The laws pertain to unjustifiable acts of cruelty. Common farming practices such as dehorning, tail docking, etc., are considered justified in our society. I am not aware of any officers who ever attempted to make an arrest for such behavior, and I feel that the concerns of the Farm Bureau are unjustified.
I live in a rural area near several dairy farms. Most of the farmers that I know care a great deal about their animals and wouldn’t want to see any unnecessary suffering come to them. The Farm Bureau purports to represent the farmers. By opposing this legislation, I don’t believe that it is reflecting their real interests.
Please express your concerns over this issue to the NYS Farm Bureau, PO Box 992, Glenmont, NY 12077, and send copies to your state legislators.
Susan C. McDonough
New York State Humane Association Humane Review, Vol.XIII, No.3, Fall 1999.