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Animal abusers could face tougher penalties

The Southampton Animal Shelter took in 17 puppies,

The Southampton Animal Shelter took in 17 puppies, Sunday, after they were rescued by the Humane Society of Northwest Georgia. (Jan. 17, 2011) Photo Credit: Handout

Suffolk County’s animal abuse registry, approved last year as the first in the nation, may soon double the time that offenders must remain listed.

The county legislature’s Public Safety Committee unanimously approved a bill Thursday that extends the registry’s requirements from five years to 10 years. Lawmakers are expected to consider it at their next full meeting on Tuesday.

Bill sponsor Legis. Jon Cooper (D-Lloyd Harbor) has said five years isn’t enough to monitor local residents convicted of animal abuse crimes. The registry — maintained by the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals — requires people to pay an annual $50 fine and provide their names, aliases, addresses and a photograph.

Failure to register carries a $1,000 fine and/or as much as a year in jail. No names yet appear on the list.

Pet stores, breeders and animal shelters must check potential customers against the registry before selling animals to them. The stores, breeders and shelters are barred from knowingly letting animal abusers buy or adopt pets.

According to a previous Newsday story, failure to check the list would be subject to fines of $500 for the first offense, $1,000 for the second and $1,500 for each subsequent violation.

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