Nassau to launch 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 will launch an online registry for convicted animal abusers and ban local shelters and retailers from providing pets to people on the registry.

The county legislature Monday unanimously approved the registry, which will resemble those begun recently in Suffolk County and New York City.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said he would sign the bill into law, referring to his two dachshunds as he noted the importance of protecting animals. He said the legislation will keep animals away from people "who don't treat a pet like it should be treated."

Under the registry, which will be operated by Nassau's Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, adults convicted of animal cruelty will have to register with police and provide their name, address and photograph. Failure to register and pay an annual $100 fee would bring a maximum $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail.

Offenders will remain on the registry for five years. County shelters or shops that knowingly provide a pet to a registrant will face fines ranging from $500 to $1,500. The public will be able to access the registry.

Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) said the initiative "sends a very strong message." She noted that the bill incorporates Democrats' request that registry info be forwarded to social services officials to identify people at higher risk of abusing children.

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"There's an undeniable connection between animal abuse and child abuse," said Legis. David Denenberg (D-Merrick.)

Also Monday, the county legislature approved:

Installation of speed cameras in 56 school districts. Drivers will get a $50 fine if they exceed speed limits by more than 10 mph during school hours. American Traffic solutions, a Scottsdale, Arizona, firm that operates county red light cameras, got the contract.

The Mangano administration estimates that the speed cameras can generate between $25 million and $30 million a year. The administration is counting on the revenues to help pay for new labor agreements that restored raises to much of the county workforce.

American Traffic Solutions will receive 38 percent of fines and penalties collected. The company, in exchange for getting the speed camera work, will reduce its percentage of revenue from red light cameras in Nassau from 38 percent to 35 percent.

A $675,000 contract with a police research organization to revamp ethics policies of the county police department, which has faced several recent officer misconduct allegations. The pact with the Police Executive Research Forum of Washington, D.C., covers 18 months of work to "increase the department's integrity, prevent officer misconduct, increase community trust and advance the department's professionalism."

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