MINEOLA, N.Y. – Acting Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced a pledge by her office to use asset forfeiture funds – the monetary proceeds derived from criminal cases – to relieve taxpayers of the cost of the medical care, boarding, rehabilitation and rehoming of any animal seized by law enforcement in connection with animal cruelty prosecutions.
“Municipal taxpayers should not have to pay for the senseless and criminal acts of another,” Acting DA Singas wrote in a letter sent to municipal leaders, shelter directors and local police officials throughout Nassau County yesterday. “Rather than encumbering municipal funds for prolonged and costly veterinary and rehabilitative services, this pledge substitutes non-taxpayer forfeiture funds, alleviates all municipal burden, and allows the redistribution of money to primary services (rather than crisis services).”
The cost of medical care for the animal victims in criminal cases can vary widely based on the condition of an animal, for example whether a mere check-up is sufficient, or if full-scale, life-saving surgery or rehabilitative efforts are required. Animals in abuse or neglect cases can cost anywhere from several hundred to many thousands of dollars to give veterinarian care to, depending upon their medical needs. The application of criminal forfeiture funding by the District Attorney’s office will relieve this financial burden from all municipalities and shelters in Nassau County.
Acting DA Singas also highlighted the link between violence against animals and violence against people and criminal enterprises such as gangs.
“Apart from the well-established social science link between violence against animals and violence against people, my office has also found that vigorous investigation and prosecution of animal crimes, most specifically dogfighting, exposes gang networks, narcotics rings, weapons trafficking activity, and other enterprise crimes,” Acting DA Singas says in her April 28 letter.
The District Attorney’s office has put several hundred animals through local shelters in previous criminal cases. The government’s responsibility of care and boarding of an animal victim is relieved when a defendant gives up ownership or when a case is closed. Approximately 30 animals are currently eligible for this funding.
Acting DA Singas is also advocating for the passage of the Consolidated Animal Crimes Bill, which was authored by her office and first introduced in 2012 as part of her office’s ongoing efforts to protect animals and prosecute animal abuse cases.
In 2013, Acting DA Singas’ office started a Countywide ‘Council on Animal Protection & Safety’ in order to provide a forum for local government and non-profit agencies in Nassau County to coordinate on efforts to curtail and prosecute animal crimes.
Members of the public can report animal crimes directly to Acting DA Singas’ Animal Crimes Unit in four ways:
• By walking in to the DA’s Criminal Complaint Unit at 272 Old Country Road, Mineola, N.Y.• By calling the DA’s 24 hour Animal Crimes Tipline at (516) 571-7755• Via website complaint form at www.nassauda.org• Via email to AnimalCrimesUnit@nassauda.org
The public should always call 911 in cases of active emergencies or imminent danger.