Guest Op-Ed: Fighting animal cruelty in our own backyard

In 2014, my bill, the New York City Animal Abuse Registry Act, became law. Under the law, convicted perpetrators of animal cruelty crimes are required to register with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Registrants are prohibited from owning, possessing or having any willful contact with any animal. The individual remains on the registry for five years after sentencing or, if jailed, for five years after release from incarceration. Just over the past few months, two high-profile dog abuse cases, one in Staten Island and one in Queens, resulted in convictions and registrations on the Animal Abuse Registry.

img_8819[1]Studies have shown that animal abuse crimes tend to be a precursor for human violence. A study by the ASPCA and the National Center for Prosecution of Animal Abuse shows a strong correlation between animal abuse, child abuse and domestic violence. Furthermore, the FBI has recently begun tracking animal abuse registries nationally as they too recognize the relationship between animal cruelty and human violence.

Animal cruelty laws are trending nationally more than ever before and unfortunately, we have a disturbing case of horrific animal cruelty crimes taking place in our very own backyard. I am extremely alarmed and disturbed by the rash of incidents that have recently occurred in Bay Ridge.

Bay Ridgeite Brian Baglioni and his neighbors came to my district office in late January to inform me about alleged animal poisonings of birds, squirrels and stray cats that were occurring near their homes between 88th Street and 93rd Street and from Ridge Boulevard to Fourth avenue in Bay Ridge. My office forwarded the case to the 68th Precinct that referred it to the NYPD Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad (ACIS).

A month later, Mr. Baglioni captured a suspect on video who may be the perpetrator. The video shows a large figure of a man who uses a pole to remove bird feeders from a tree. Afterwards, the man empties the feeders onto the ground and subsequently pours what appears to be antifreeze onto the feed and ground. He then nonchalantly leaves the scene. After viewing the footage, I met with Mr. Baglioni and his watchdog group. After hearing their concerns I communicated with the 68th Precinct and the ACIS and was assured that an active investigation was ongoing.

I commend Mr. Baglioni and his neighbors for spreading awareness about these horrific incidents. The individual responsible for these crimes doesn’t belong on the streets of Brooklyn.
If you have information or have witnessed these heinous acts, do not hesitate to contact the 68th Precinct at 718-439-4211 or my office at 718-748-5200.

City Councilmember Vincent Gentile represents the 43rd Council District.

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