Animal abuse is an all too sad reality, but a new law that requires animal abuse offenders to join a registry is becoming more prevalent in many states. There are already some jurisdictions in the U.S. that have implemented an animal offenders registry, similar to the sex offenders registry. Offenders’ identities would be publicly known for an area. The registry would also aid pet stores and shelters, keeping them from giving an animal to someone on the list.
Currently, Tennessee is the only state that has a registry, but other counties, including Suffolk County, NY, Hillsborough County, Florida, and Cook County, Illinois are setting up local animal offender registries. Some other states, including Connecticut, Washington, and Texas are also implementing similar concepts.
A person on the registry will have identifying information as a known abuser, including name, date of birth, offense, conviction date, and expiration date. First-time abusers will stay on the registry for two years and additional offenses earn them five years after the expiration date for every offense after the original.
Suffolk County legislator Jon Cooper told Shared.com: “We know there is a very strong correlation between animal abuse and domestic violence,” adding, “Almost every serial killer starts out by torturing animals, so in a strange sense we could end up protecting the lives of people.”
The registry will also include a photo and any aliases the person goes by if they’re 18 years or older, and if an animal abuser doesn’t register, they could face a $1,000 fine and up to a year in prison.
Many people weighed in on the discussion on WMTW-TV’s Facebook post about the animal abuse registry, with one commenter noting:
“No doubt in my mind that there SHOULD be a registry for animal abusers. Just like children, animals are often vulnerable and certainly can’t tell anyone when they’ve been harmed. Anyone who does this deserves to lose their anonymity.”
Another commenter agreed, writing:
“Yes. When someone abuses animals, chances are they are or will abuse humans. They should not be allowed to own another animal.”
This commenter noted that having the registry information could be very beneficial, explaining:
“Absolutely! I don’t want to live near an animal abuser! Nor would I like for my dog to accidentally get off her leash and end up in an animal abusers yard…Too many messed up people in this world.”
Another person addressed the tendency of animal abusers to commit other crimes as well, noting:
“Yes, especially because animal abuse is often a warning sign of other crimes, like psychopathy and serial killers. It could be a sign of another underlying problem that could be much worse.”
This person agreed, writing:
“Professional studies have been performed linking animal abuse to cases of child, elder and other abuse. The FBI now tracks cases of animal abuse for this exact reason.”
This commenter put it simply: “YES, why should their identities be kept secret? That’s like protecting an employee who commits crimes on the job when the public has the right to know.”