Our opinion: Cruelty

In New York State it’s called Buster’s Law, named for a cat that was doused with gasoline and set on fire for the perverted pleasure of an animal abuser.

Most of us can’t imagine dousing any animal with gasoline and setting it on fire, the thought being so obscene, so inhuman, to be unthinkable.

And yet, it happens.

Buster’s Law defines a crime known in more sterile terms as “aggravated animal cruelty,” describing it as follows: Aggravated cruelty to animals. 1. A person is guilty of aggravated cruelty to animals when, with no justifiable purpose, he or she intentionally kills or intentionally causes serious physical injury to a companion animal with aggravated cruelty. For purposes of this section, “aggravated cruelty” shall mean conduct which: (i) is intended to cause extreme physical pain; or (ii) is done or carried out in an especially depraved or sadistic manner.”

The law definitively exempts hunting, fishing and trapping, the dispatch of dangerous animals, and other acts of euthanasia approved by the state’s Department of Agriculture.

It is a felony that has been on the books since 1999.

Now, the New York Senate has forwarded to that state’s lower house a bill that would establish a registry for those convicted under Buster’s Law, much the way sexual offenders are registered. That is, their name, address and crime would be available to the public. More importantly, the information would be available to law enforcement, animal shelters and veterinarians. It also requires the perpetrator to undergo psychiatric treatment.

The Senate easily passed the Republican-sponsored bill, and we believe Pennsylvania’s General Assembly should consider a similar law.

It is well-known among both animal protection officials and law enforcement officers that such acts of animal cruelty are corollary to violence against children and adults, including sexual assault.

A person capable of unspeakable cruelty against animals is a danger to more than just animals.