State Legislators Paws for Pets at Animal Advocacy Day


Tedisco & Ball Join John Hargrove, Former SeaWorld Killer Whale Trainer Featured in “Blackfish”, Yakkul a Dog Rescued by U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan, and Nimee, a Disabled Pooch that uses a Wheelchair, for 4th Annual NYS Animal Advocacy Day

Special event in Albany brings together lawmakers, law enforcement and hundreds of pet owners and animal advocates to raise awareness of need to protect pets and people


Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R,C,I-Glenville) and Senator Greg Ball (R,C,I-Patterson) today held the 4th  Annual NYS Animal Advocacy Day in Albany to bring together lawmakers, law enforcement and hundreds of pet owners and advocates to raise awareness of the need to protect pets and people from violence.


The special event was emceed by Steve Caporizzo from Pet Connection and featured John Hargrove, a former SeaWorld Killer Whale trainer featured in the acclaimed documentary “Blackfish,” Yakkul, a dog from Afghanistan, that was adopted by a U.S. Special Forces officer from Valatie, and Nimee, a disabled dog that uses a wheelchair to get around. 


Other guests included Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney, who prosecuted the original case that inspired the passage of Buster’s animal cruelty felony law, Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo and two K-9 units, and Richard and Rosemarie Nash who adopted Hudson, one of the Railroad Puppies that was nailed to railroad tracks in Albany.  Tedisco and Ball also were joined by Saratoga Springs philanthropist and animal advocate, Michele Riggi and her dog, Queenie, a rescue dog that was devocalized prior to its adoption and rescued by Riggi, and acting dog Bocker the Labradoodle who has had numerous film and television appearances.


This bipartisan event enabled animal supporters to network, share information and lobby their legislators to raise awareness of the need to protect pets and people from abuse. Over 30 exhibitors including rescues, shelters, and animal advocacy groups took part.


It’s hard to read a newspaper or watch the news and not learn of yet another disturbing case of animal cruelty and neglect.  While we’ve made great strides in protecting our four-legged friends since the passage of the landmark Buster’s Law in 1999, there are still many miles to go in New York State to protect our pets. I’m pleased to join with Senator Ball and our colleagues, members of law enforcement and hundreds of animal advocates to call for the toughest laws in the nation to keep our pets and fellow humans safe,” said Tedisco.


“I’m so happy to again work with Assemblyman Tedisco to organize the 4th Annual Animal Advocacy Day. This is a wonderful event, for a wonderful cause, that continues to grow every year,” said Senator Greg ball. “Most people can agree that the level of respect and kindness shown for animals, creatures who cannot speak for themselves, or protect themselves, is a fine predictor of how a person will treat their peers. Violent and cruel behavior towards animals, cannot and should not be tolerated.”


“It is my honor to join New York State Senator Greg Ball, Assemblyman Jim Tedisco and all those who have made NYS Animal Advocacy Day possible for the 4th year in Albany. The unfortunate and appalling truth is that animals are abused and neglected every day. I am proud to stand with those who are fighting to stop animal cruelty and abuse. The statewide animal abuse registry that passed the Senate is just one example of the heroic work of Senator Ball and all those associated with this event. I support true legislative change, such as this, which ends animal cruelty and to speak and fight for animals who cannot speak or fight for themselves,” said John Hargrove, a former killer whale trainer that spent nearly two decades in the industry working at SeaWorld of California and SeaWorld of Texas and who was featured in the documentary “Blackfish.


According to the ASPCA, 62 percent of American households have a pet. Studies have shown companion animals can provide a variety of positive health benefits, including providing comfort and assistance to seniors and people with disabilities. They help police, fire departments, and search and rescue efforts to keep citizens safe. It’s been widely reported that a military canine went in with U.S. Navy Seal Team 6 when they took down the world’s most notorious terrorist, Osama Bin Laden.


As research indicates, violence against animals is a bridge crime that can, and has, led to violence against people.  Serial killers Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, and David “Son of Sam” Berkowitz all started out as animal abusers before they began preying on people.  There’s often a direct correlation between domestic violence and animal cruelty.


Buster’s Law created the felony category of "aggravated cruelty to animals," punishable by up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine.  The law was named after an 18-month-old tabby cat that had been doused with kerosene and burned to death by a Schenectady teen. Prior to this bill becoming law, animal cruelty resulted in only misdemeanor penalties, if any charges were imposed at all.


Since the 1997 arrest that inspired the creation of Buster's Law, the perpetrator who abused that helpless cat has been imprisoned for various crimes, including attempted rape, sexual abuse and unlawful imprisonment of a 12-year-old girl. 


On Animal Advocacy Day, lawmakers and advocates are calling for several bi-partisan measures to strengthen Buster’s felony animal cruelty law to require that animal abusers be placed on a statewide registry of abusers, prohibit them from ever owning a companion animal again, and require them to undergo a psychiatric evaluation (A.8443/S.2305A


Tedisco and Ball’s statewide animal abuse registry legislation is Majority sponsored in the Assembly by Assemblywoman Didi Barrett (D-Hudson) and is supported by the Police Benevolent Association of New York State, the New York State Animal Control Association, and the New York State Humane Association, among others.


Among other bills, they’re calling for legislation to prohibit the possession of killer whales in aquariums (A.8832/S.6613A), and make it a felony (A.8820/S.6628) to intentionally fail to provide adequate shelter, hydration or proper sustenance for a dog as happened with the puppy mill in Sprakers, Montgomery County.


They also will advocate to ban the transportation of horses for slaughter in New York State (A.3905/S.4615).


For more information on NYS Animal Advocacy Day, visit the event’s page on Facebook.