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Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice: New York Animal Laws Need More Bite

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Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice appears with a dog up for adoption at a news conference in Mineola, N.Y., on April 7, 2014.

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice appears with a dog up for adoption at a news conference in Mineola, N.Y., on April 7, 2014.

MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — In New York state, it is illegal to make horses run on plank roads and to sell six or fewer rabbits younger than two months old.

Those are just a couple of examples of how outdated the state’s animal laws are, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said at a news conference Monday, two days before Animal Humane Lobby Day.

“This is nonsense that this is the state of animal crimes in New York state,” Rice told reporters, including 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera. “These antiquated laws are in desperate need of an overhaul.”

Laws against animals in New York are codified in the state’s Agriculture and Markets Law, “which has seen little change in nearly 150 years,” Rice said. When the laws were written, women could not vote, there were no traffic lights and burglary wasn’t considered a crime, she noted.

In addition, police officers are not trained on A&M Law, Rice said.

The district attorney is calling on Albany to pass the Consolidated Animal Crimes Bill, which her office introduced in 2012. The legislation would move animal crimes to the state’s Penal Law, making it more accessible to law enforcement; use fingerprinting and DNA to assist in investigations and prosecutions in animal-related cases; and strengthen penalties against animal abusers.

“I urge my colleagues to support this bill to help law enforcement better protect animals from cruelty, neglect, and abuse,” state Sen. Andrew Lanza, R-Staten Island, the Senate sponsor of the Consolidated Animal Crimes Bill, said in a news release issued by Rice’s office.

Brian Shapiro, New York state director of the Humane Society of the United States, said: “There is a growing public consensus on the need to crack down on serious animal related crimes. However, effective enforcement is often complicated by the fact that New York’s anti-cruelty statutes have been placed out of reach in the state’s Agriculture & Markets Law, which is unfamiliar territory for most police agencies, prosecutors and judges.”

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