Nassau moves to create animal abuser registry

Miss Harper, a 7-month-old pit bull who had Miss Harper, a 7-month-old pit bull who had its ears and hind right leg cut off in an act of animal cruelty, attends a Jan. 31, 2014, news conference in Huntington. Photo Credit: Brittany Wait

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Nassau County wants to create an online registry of convicted animal abusers, with supporters saying the individuals are prone to committing acts of domestic violence.

The county legislature's Rules Committee yesterday unanimously approved establishing the registry, similar to one in Suffolk. Nassau's version would make adults register with police within five days of an animal cruelty conviction.

The offender's name, address and photo would be displayed for five years on a website maintained by the Nassau County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Failure to register -- and pay the annual $100 fee to help fund the registry -- would be a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail.

The bill says that the legislature had found a "strong correlation . . . linking individuals who abuse animals with incidents of domestic violence." Other municipalities that have created registries say they can help shelters and pet shops keep animals out of abusers' hands.

"This is something we really need to do," said Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow), noting that the registry will help assure that "those on the list never have the opportunity to house an animal."

Suffolk's animal abuse registry was approved in 2010, with similar terms and penalties.

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The Nassau registry would begin immediately upon approval by the full Legislature and signing of the bill by County Executive Edward Mangano.

Also Monday, the Rules Committee approved:

Increasing a contract to remove superstorm Sandy debris from South Shore waterways by $8.2 million. Nassau's pact with VIP Splash Waterways Recovery Group Inc. of Island Park will rise to $12 million. County officials say all costs will be federally reimbursed.

The contractor has already been working to recover about 118 vessels that were destroyed and submerged after the October 2012 storm. It will now extend its work to cleaning up debris that washed up on South Shore marshes, wetlands and canals.

Restoring county funding for a federal aquifer monitoring program. Nassau will pay the U.S. Geological Survey $245,000 through September 2015 to resume its longtime groundwater and streamflow monitoring.

The USGS stopped collecting data in 2010 after the county stopped funding the program in an effort to cut costs. Environmentalists and civic groups had lobbied the administration to restore the program's funding.

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