By Haley Viccaro, Albany Bureau
ALBANY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Wednesday an Animal Protection Initiative that would target animal fighting rings and charge individuals who abuse or neglect animals.
The initiative would crack down on puppy mills and fighting rings to protect animals and include increased efforts to combat animal cruelty throughout the state, Schneiderman said.
The announcement comes after Schneiderman said his office on Wednesday reached a $20,000 civil settlement with a pet store in Yonkers, Westchester County, that was allegedly keeping animals in unsafe conditions.
Louis Gaudio, the owner of the Yonkers store called Puppies Puppies Puppies, was allegedly selling sick puppies to customers and was also involved in other illegal business practices, Schneiderman said. There was no immediate comment from the store.
"Fighting animal cruelty is both a consumer protection issue and a public safety issue," Schneiderman said in a statement. "There is a direct correlation between the dog fighting rings and other criminal enterprises, including gangs, gambling and illegal drugs, that put out communities at risk."
To prevent animal cruelty, the office will target individuals who abuse animals, including abuse such as with dog and animal fighting, which is illegal in every state in the country.
Schneiderman said animal-fighting convictions in New York could result in up to four years in jail and a $25,000 fine.
"Animal protection laws are only meaningful if put to use, and Attorney General Schneiderman's commitment to robust enforcement can make New York State a national leader in the effort to protect animals from willful cruelty," said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the U.S., in a statement.
New York residents who have complaints or want to report animal abuse could call 1-800-771-7755.