People will soon have the chance to talk directly to state leaders about ways to prevent animal cruelty and protect our four-legged friends. Sarah Blazonis tells us how you can weigh in.
UTICA, N.Y. -- Macho is one of the lucky ones. He and puppy Vanessa were among a group of eight pit bulls found severely malnourished and eating shoe leather to survive in a Utica home last month. They were the only survivors.
"You see these animals just being tortured and suffering and they come into us and the tail is still waggling and in their eyes, they look at you, there's just still so much life in them," said Lynn Rosen, president of the Humane Society of Rome.
But Macho and Vanessa's story is just one to come out of the Mohawk Valley in a little over the past year and that's why lawmakers are meeting in Utica next week to talk about ways to curb such cruelty.
Senator Joseph Griffo says the Senate's Standing Committee on Agriculture will be in town on May 9 to hold a public hearing. People can submit written testimony with ideas on how to protect animals. Griffo says anything from new laws to tougher penalties for offenders could be up for discussion.
"Animals are defenseless. They can't really speak up and protect themselves, so when you look at neglect and abuse, that's a real unfortunate situation," said Senator Griffo.
Jerry Kraus is one of those who plans to speak up next week. As an official at the Stevens-Swan Humane Society, he's seen a number of abuse cases in the last several months, from Macho and Vanessa to Apollo, a pit bull left outside overnight in below freezing temperatures last winter.
"We need to have some laws with teeth that really send a message that if you abuse animals in our community, you will pay a punishment," said Kraus, director of PR, marketing, and development for Stevens-Swan.
A message advocates hope will stop abuse before it begins.
That public hearing will be held next Wednesday, May 9 at the State Office Building on Genesee Street in Utica beginning at 2 p.m. All members of the community are welcome to attend and are also invited to submit written comments at that time. Spoken testimony will be by invitation only.