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Suffolk starts web registry for animal abusers

Suffolk County on Thursday launched what it believes is the nation’s first online registry of people convicted of animal abuse charges.

Created by Suffolk legislators last year, the registry is designed to let people know if they are living near animal abusers.

County lawmakers also approved another measure in May requiring pet stores, breeders and animal shelters to check 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.

No names yet appear on the registry. Legis. Jon Cooper (D-Lloyd Harbor), who sponsored the registry legislation, said in a statement that the registry will be managed and maintained by the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

From now on, people convicted of animal abuse will be required to pay an annual $50 fine and register their names, aliases, addresses and a photograph for the database.

They are also required to update their personal information annually or any time they change their address. Appearance in the registry is mandated for five years after an abuser’s incarceration or conviction. Those failing to register during that period are subject to a $1,000 fine and/or as much as a year in jail.

Cooper, who also proposed the law requiring that pet shops and shelters check customers against the registry, said: “I hope all of us — two-legged and four-legged alike — will be able to feel a little safer.”

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