U.S. states have shown a stronger stance on animal abuse over the years. In fact, a recent report showed that while Tennessee is so far the only state with an animal offenders registry that lists abusers in a similar manner as sex offenders, many smaller cities and counties such as New York City, Suffolk County, N.Y., and Cook County, Ill., have a local registry of their own.
The goal of these registries is to protect animal welfare by enabling pet shops and shelters to check that prospective owners are not on the animal abuse list. The registries also provide an opportunity for people to inspect pet-sitters and people planning to buy an animal from another individual. The registries also require retailers and shelters to have their prospective adopters or purchasers sign an affidavit claiming that they were not included in the registry.
Suffolk County, N.Y., was the first one in the country to officially register animal abusers. “We know there is a very strong correlation between animal abuse and domestic violence. Almost every serial killer starts out by torturing animals, so in a strange sense we could end up protecting the lives of people,” Suffolk County legislator Jon Cooper said in OneGreenPlanet.org.
On the other hand, Tennessee was the first state to introduce such a database in January 2016. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigations (TBI) monitors its animal abuse registry, which can be accessed at the TBI or any other local country office. Tampa, Fla., also launched its animal abuse registry in September last year. Similar animal abuse registries have also been proposed in other states including Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Texas, and Washington.
The registry will contain specific animal abuser data including name, date of birth, offense, conviction date, and expiration date. First-time offenders will be included in the registry for two years. Convicted abusers who continue with their practice after two years will have an additional five years in the registry for every subsequent offense. A petition to introduce similar registries in the U.K. has garnered thousands of signatures. However, the petition closed early due to the general election.
“Current animal welfare law is a start, but there are serious loopholes. It’s a surprise to many that at the moment there is no legal requirement to record an animal abuser’s name and details on any register, or to make abusers report any change in their details or address. This means the police and prosecuting agencies can’t keep track of offenders and prevent further cruelty to animals…The double murderer Stephen Farrow (convicted last year) killed other people’s pet animals as a child. The killers Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy, Raoul Moat, and the child murderers Ian Brady, Thomas Hamilton, Robert Thompson, and Ian Huntley all killed animals after torturing them,” the Campaign for an Animal Abuser Register website read.
Shocking animal cruelty facts you need to know today
Animal cruelty has reached shocking statistics over the years. According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the most common victims of animal abuse were dogs, cats, horses, and livestock. Data from Pet-Abuse.com‘s 2011 digest revealed that more than 70 percent of dogs were involved in animal abuse, while nearly 21 percent of cats suffered from abuse. Animal abuse was done in more than 24 percent of other animals, the digest showed.
The HSUS also noted animal abuse had a significant correlation with domestic abuse. According to the organization, about 70 million pet dogs and 74.1 million pet cats in the U.S. get attacked every minute. A survey also revealed that 71 percent of domestic violence victims reported that their abusers also attacked pets. Another study revealed that pet abuse occurred in 88 percent of families being monitored for child abuse.