DA Race: Gentile Calls For Animal Justice Reform

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The increasingly intense race for Brooklyn District Attorney took a humane turn today when one of the candidates, City Councilman Vincent Gentile, promised that when elected he will to create an Animal Cruelty Unit similar to existing units in Queens and Staten Island.

City Councilman Vincent Gentile

The unit will focus on stemming the tide of small impact animal crimes such as animal hoarding, animal abuse and neglect, but also to greatly reduce large impact crimes such as dogfighting, cockfighting, the illegal animal trade, and criminal enterprises associated with animals.

Gentile has a long legislative track record supporting animal rights. Among his chief accomplishments includes the creation of New York City’s animal abuse registry.

“For too long, the Brooklyn DA’s office has neglected to take a lead on going after crimes associated with animals. The well-established link between animal cruelty and violence against people is too large to ignore, and as DA, I will take immediate steps to create a robust Animal Cruelty Unit to counter abusers” Gentile said.

Gentile said the proposal comes at a time when animal cruelty has reached epidemic proportions in Brooklyn, and charged that acting District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, who is also a candidate, is unwilling to dedicate the much-needed resources to counter this crime wave.

Lupe Todd-Medina, spokesperson for the Gonzalez campaign, responded that Brooklyn continues to be one of the safest big cities in the United States, and recently released statistics that 2017 is on pace to have another record reduction in crime. She also confirmed that the DA’s office already has an animal cruelty unit

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez

“District Attorney Gonzalez understands the importance of prosecuting animal cruelty cases. To that end, his office recently convicted a woman of animal cruelty after the city removed almost 180 rabbits she was hoarding in a vacant lot in Gowanus,” said Todd-Medina.

Under Gentile’s policy proposal, the Animal Cruelty Unit will support the NYPD Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad with the prosecutorial resources of the District Attorney’s office in regards to small- scale crimes such as animal hoarding, animal abuse, animal neglect, illegal animal grooming and domestic violence cases. It will also assist in large-scale crimes such as dogfighting, cockfighting, illegal animal trade and other criminal enterprises.

With the creation of the NYPD Animal Cruelty Prosecution Unit, the city’s police force has committed resources dedicated to the investigation of animal crime, but constantly hit a brick wall when it comes down to prosecutorial support.

“With the Queens DA and the Staten Island DA as the only two DA’s offices that have Animal Crime Unit, we will not only be able to alleviate the caseload of our fellow DA’s offices, but be able to sufficiently investigate and prosecute crimes committed in our own borough,” said gentile.

The unit will also focus on educating the public on how to prevent and detect animal abuse.

Gentile’s argument for an Animal Cruelty Unit, was paired with the Empire State Humane Voters (ESHV) endorsement. The non-profit’s Executive Director Allie Taylor formerly served as executive director for NYCLASS, which lobbied to get horse carriages out of Central Park.

ESHV bills itself as the preeminent organization focused on electing candidates who support animal protection, lobby for stronger laws to stop animal cruelty, and hold elected officials accountable to humane voters.

“Whether it was creating a registry to ban those convicted of animal cruelty from having pets or cracking down on cruel and unscrupulous pet dealers, puppy mills and other large-scale commercial breeding operations, Vincent [Gentile] has always been a supporter of animal rights,” said Taylor.

“We believe how we treat our animals reflects how we treat each other and that’s why, as Brooklyn District Attorney, Vincent will always support animal protection and stronger laws to put an end to animal cruelty.”