Buster’s Law, named after an 18-month old cat doused in kerosene and lit on fire, passed into law in 1999, making animal cruelty a felony in New York State. At the time, many animal advocacy organizations were thrilled with the passing of the new law. However, as time passed, the limitations of the law revealed themselves.

In order to be charged under Buster’s Law, animal abusers must have intended to cause “extreme physical pain” or acted in a “particularly depraved or sadistic manner.” Individuals found guilty of shooting stray dogs can’t be found guilty under Buster’s Law, for “acts of torture” would need to take place. The starving of horses is not punishable under Buster’s Law, for horses do not qualify as “companion animals,” such as dogs or cats. There are numerous examples of cases that resemble these instances. Of the 373 arrests made under Buster’s Law between 2005 and 2010, only 17% received felony convictions, and 30% received misdemeanor convictions. More than half of the defendants received no convictions or received minor violations.


A bill designed to strengthen this legislation, as well as create a registry containing the names and addresses of anyone convicted of violating Buster’s Law, passed the New York Senate on June 17, 2013. However, this bill failed to pass the Assembly. State Senator Greg Ball, the sponsor of the bill, has created a petition for the bill’s passage. Senator Ball stated, “This statewide registry will prevent repeat animal abuse offenders throughout New York State. I urge New Yorkers to sign this petition and to contact their legislators to let them know the importance of protecting our furry little friends.”

If you’re interested in signing the petition for a statewide registry for convicted animal-abusers, it can be found here. Let’s be thankful for animal wellbeing this Thanksgiving and show our support by signing this petition!!



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