Niagara Co. leader pushes for animal abuse registry

Animal abuse registry proposal

NIAGARA COUNTY, N.Y. (WIVB)- Niagara County Legislature’s Minority Leader Dennis Virtuoso wants to crack down on animal abuse.

He’s proposing a registry, where those convicted of animal abuse will be listed.

The measure is modeled after a similar one in Orange County, N.Y. and would be run by the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office.

Those convicted of an animal abuse offense would have five days to register or face fines. Additionally, anyone caught selling animals to those on the registry would also face fines.

Virtuoso said he was prompted to take action after a recent animal abuse case, in which a dog was stuffed into a garbage bag and left on the side of the road.

But the Erie County SPCA told News 4 this measure could backfire.

Executive Director of the Erie County SPCA Barbara Carr said very few cases she deals with involve violent animal abusers. She said most of the time, the offenders are mentally ill, and hoarders.

“Why would you want to shame someone who is mentally ill? Why would you want to do that?” she asked.

“I’ve been fighting this notion here in Erie County, on the state level, I would suggest people fight it in Niagara County. It’s just an opportunity for a politician to look great,” Carr said.

Virtuoso told News 4 hoarders are a danger to animals, and shouldn’t be allowed to own them.

“If you’re hoarding animals and hurting animals, the animals can’t speak for themselves, we have to speak for the animals,” he said.

Carr said denying someone the chance to have a pet could likely lead to re-offending, and she doesn’t think this will decrease the number of abuse cases.

There will be a hearing on the measure Oct. 20 and from there it will go to a vote. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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