Recent state legislation that seeks to enact animal abuser registries

Escrito por Nuria Querol i Viñas.

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Suffolk County, New York, established the first animal abuser registry in October 2010 and set a precedent for other New York counties and legislation in other states.  The animal abuser registries are similar to those required for sex offenders.  Any person convicted of an animal abuse crime in his or her respective state would be required to supply the registry with information such as name, address, and a photo.

Recent abhorrent crimes and abuses against companion animals have sparked an awareness of these crimes and led to the introduction of new animal abuser registry bills in several states, often inspired by a specific violent crime. In Maryland, Senator Young introduced “Heidi’s Bill” after he heard the story of a golden retriever puppy shot to death as she played in her owner’s backyard. In Florida, Senator Fasano introduced “Dexter’s Law” after a kitten was severely beaten in a park and subsequently euthanized due to the amount of head trauma he suffered.

 

The aim of animal abuser registries is to make shelters, pet stores/dealers, and the general public aware of individuals convicted of abusing animals.  This will provide shelter and pet store owners with a means to screen potential owners/adopters through the registry to ensure that they do not gain ownership of more animals. It also allows the general public to be on notice if there is an abuser living in their neighborhood in order to better protect their companion animals from possible abuse.

State Legislation

In Arizona, HB 2310 would require persons convicted of animal abuse to register with their picture, address, and type of offense in an online registry. A first-time offender would only be kept in the registry for one year. However, a second offense would keep that person on the registry for his or her life. Failure to register after an animal abuse conviction could be considered a misdemeanor.  This bill was introduced January 17, 2012 and was assigned to committee.

If you live in Arizona, contact your State Representative ask him/her to SUPPORT this legislation.

In Colorado, HB 12-1087 would have required persons convicted of cruelty to animals, cruelty to a service animal, aggravated cruelty to animals, or animal fighting to register electronically their names, any aliases, residential addresses, and photos. However, the bill was rejected by Colorado lawmakers on Monday, amidst concerns that some people on the registry would be “unfairly stereotyped” as violent or abusive and capable of more serious crimes. Because the link between abuse to animals and abuse to humans has been well documented, it is unclear why convicted animal abusers should NOT be considered violent or abusive and capable of other crimes.

If you live in Colorado, contact your State Representative ask him/her to reconsider the issue of Animal Abuser Registries and its role in protecting animals and people.

Florida bill SB 618 requires each person convicted of an animal abuse crime to register with the animal abuser registry at the time of his or her conviction.  An offender must also re-register annually on the date of his or her conviction. In registering, an offender must include his or her name and any aliases, date of birth, permanent residential address, any electronic mail address, all animal abuse convictions, and a photo. Offenders would also be required to pay a $50 annual fee to support the maintenance and costs of the registry for as long as they live in the state. This bill was introduced in the Senate on January 10, 2012 and referred to the Agriculture, Criminal Justice, and Budget committees.

If you live in Florida, contact your State Senator ask him/her to SUPPORT this legislation.

SB 301 in Maryland would require persons convicted of animal abuse to register with a statewide system.  Some of the offenses resulting in an animal abuse conviction in Maryland are abuse, neglect, torture, attending a dog fight, or leaving a dog unattended outside. A person convicted and ultimately registered will be removed from the registry after 10 years provided there are no subsequent violations.  In order to maintain the system, offenders registered would be required to pay a $50 annual fee.  The bill was introduced in the Senate on January 27, 2012.

If you live in Maryland, contact your State Senator ask him/her to SUPPORT this legislation.

New York bill A 5373 was introduced in the Assembly last year. This bill requires that persons convicted of animal abuse register online with their addresses, photo, social security number, physical description, date of birth, place of employment, the date and place of the offense, and the type of offense. All information regarding the offender will be made available to the public, except for the social security number of the person, for 15 years.

If you live in New York, contact your State Assemblyman and ask him/her to SUPPORT this legislation.

In Tennessee, HB 3483 and SB 3149, introduced the Tennessee Animal Abuser Registration, Tracking and Verification Act, which would require animal abuse offenders to register names and any aliases, addresses, animal abuse offenses, and other extensive personal information. Animal abuse offenders will be required to pay a one-time registration fee of $275.  Once a year, offenders will have to report to his or her local law enforcement agency to update his or her fingerprints, palm prints and photograph.  At this time offenders will also have to pay another administrative fee of $100.  After ten years, the offender’s name will be removed from the registry, assuming no other offenses or convictions on the part of the offender.

If you live in Tennessee, contact your State Representative and Senator and ask them to SUPPORT this legislation.

If your state has not already proposed legislation to institute an animal abuser registry, you can download a model law and ask your state legislator to introduce it in your state.