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Ryan proposes tougher animal cruelty penalties

Chris Caya/WBFO News

The discovery of a dog found tortured in Buffalo last month has led Assemblyman Sean Ryan to propose tougher sanctions for animal abuse. Named after a Jack Russell Terrier puppy who was set on fire, allegedly by two Buffalo teenagers, Ryan says 'Phoenix's Law' will double the penalty and double the fine for animal cruelty. He says the legislation will help bring New York's law in line with other states and help act as a deterrent. 

"I think it's time for New York State to mirror the national average," Ryan said Thursday.

Along with increasing the maximum prison sentence to four years and doubling the fine to $10,000, Ryan says the proposed law also requires psychiatric evaluation and recommended treatment for anyone convicted of animal cruelty.

"Animal cruelty is considered, by many experts, to be a leading indicator in the predisposition for future acts of violence. Often someone who abuses a vulnerable pet as a child grows up to be somebody who abuses vulnerable adults and children, and this law will help identify somebody with that predisposition," Ryan said.

Phoenix is still recovering at the Buffalo Small Animal Hospital. Veterinarian Technician Judi Bunge, who has been caring for Phoenix, says the 4-month old puppy is doing well, but still needs weeks of healing.

"We're very pleased. The ears are healed. They're not the prettiest, but it's a cosmetic repair. They're totally functional -- he can hear, he can move them. He's a pretty happy dog," Bunge said.

Ryan says he will introduce Phoenix's Law after the first of the year.

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