BY TRISHA SAKHUJA
Former Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. has been named one of America’s Top 10 Animal Defenders by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
In 2013, his final year in the City Council, he successfully initiated and passed a registry of animal abusers, one of the first in the nation.
The impetus for this City registry came after Astoria bodybuilder Milan Rysa threw his own dog out an apartment window, an act of cruelty for which Rysa was convicted, Vallone said he wanted to ensure something like this could never happen again.
Vallone said he has grown up learning to love and respect animals because of his mother. He said he is so happy that the bill is one he is the most proud of.
“I can’t think of a better way to end a 12-year run than with an award like this,” he said.
Due to a lot of opposition surrounding the bill, Vallone said it took him five years to pass the animal abuse registry bill, but looking to the future, he said he is very optimistic that a lot more will get done.
“There was no concern from either side of City Hall to take care of animals, like they do for humans,” he said. “Redefining the roles of government agencies when it comes to taking care of animals should be a priority.”
Since the Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene is responsible for the animal abuse registry, Vallone said one of his biggest recommendations is to create a new agency to do the job and take away the responsibility from the health department.