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SPCA seeks conviction of 3 animal abusers

A swan found with an arrow through its

A swan found with an arrow through its body near a park in Riverhead on July 22, 2011, is recovering at a local rescue center, and the Suffolk County SPCA is trying to find out who did it. The handout photo was taken by Ryan Ortiz and is courtesy of the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center

Suffolk County's Animal Abuse Offender's Registry, the first in the nation when enacted last year, doesn't have any names of convicted animal abusers on it. Yet.

But Suffolk SPCA chief Roy Gross, whose agency maintains the list, said Wednesday he hopes to find those responsible for three recent cases of animal abuse. If convicted, they'd be required to register as animal abusers for five years, which means they would have to pay annual fees and could not purchase or adopt an animal during that time.

In a news conference Wednesday at Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue in Hampton Bays, Gross announced increased rewards, ranging from $1,000 to $12,500, for information in the three recent animal cruelty cases. He pleaded with the public to step forward.

"We need to try to let people know," Gross said. "With reward money like that, I strongly believe someone will come forward, but they have to know about it."

The three cases involve a box turtle found with a nail stuck through its shell in Sag Harbor on July 5; a swan found impaled by an arrow near a Riverhead park on Friday; and a seagull that died after it was hit in the head with a rock the size of a brick in Montauk on Saturday.

"This is somebody going out of their way to harm or mutilate an animal," Gross said.

The turtle and swan are both in stable condition at the rescue center. Gross said the turtle is fit to be released back into the wild soon, but the swan has had trouble standing and may have suffered nerve damage.

"We're not sure [if] it will make it or not," Gross said.

The reward for information leading to the abuser in the turtle's case is $12,500 and $11,000 for the swan -- in both cases $1,000 was offered by the Suffolk SPCA and the balance by anonymous donors. The reward for information on who killed the seagull is $1,000, donated by the Suffolk SPCA.

On top of fines and potential jail time, those convicted would have to pay $50 per year for five years to be registered on the animal abuser registry, which was approved by the county legislature in October 2010 and took effect in May, Gross said. For those convicted of animal abuse in Suffolk County, failure to register as an offender could result in a $1,000 fine.

"You better think twice before you act out against an animal," Gross said. "Not only are you facing jail time, but you'll be plastered all over our website."

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