Do You Know Who Your Neighbors Are?
California Considers Registry for Animal Abusers

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Do You Know Who Your Neighbors Are?
California Considers Registry for Animal Abusers

[Ed. Note: Please sign Care2’s petition asking Governor Schwarzenegger to support the bill for an animal abuse registry and also sign Expose Animal Abusers: Set Up State Registries from Animal Legal Defense Fund.]

By Alicia Graef on Care2.com

Sadly, there’s no shortage of stories about animals being tortured and abused hitting the news. Girl bakes kitten in oven, boy throws dog off rooftop, man adopts kitten from shelter, pokes out her eyes, breaks her legs, cuts off her feet and leaves her to bleed to death in his basement.

These horrors occur undetected every day across the country. Don’t you want to know if these outstanding citizens are your very own next-door neighbors? Soon you may just be a few clicks away from finding out.

Last Friday, a bill was introduced in California by the state Senate’s majority leader Dean Florez that calls for the creation of an online registry for animal abusers, similar to the ones used for sex offenders, reports the New York Times.

The bill was drafted in collaboration with the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), and would require that “any person convicted of a felony involving animal cruelty would have to register with the police and provide a range of personal information and a current photograph. That information would be posted online, along with information on the person’s offense.”

Some have raised concerns over privacy issues. However, lawyer and ALDF board member Joshua Marquis, points out that such a registry would not turn a person into a pariah, and that, “it gives information to someone who might be considering hiring that person for a job.”

“I do not think for animal abusers it’s unreasonable considering the risk they pose, much like the risk that people who abuse children do,” he added.

Gillian Deegan, an assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Va., adds that such a registry could also be valuable in tracking people who run puppy mills and animal-fighting rings, as well as hoarders, who sometimes collect hundreds of animals, often resulting in neglect.

Animal abuse is not just bad for animals either and has been extensively documented as a predictor of human abuse, and is often related to domestic violence, child abuse and other crimes. Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer got his start on animals as a child.

Animal abusers are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against people and four times more likely to commit property crimes than are individuals without a history of animal abuse, according to the ALDF.

Not only would this type of registry provide valuable information to communities who want to keep their pets and families safe, but it also provides an excellent resource for shelters and rescue groups who need to screen potential adopters, along with keeping track of abusers who slither off to new locations only to start the cycle of abuse over somewhere new.