Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters
Lawmakers Consider an Animal Abuse Registry
SAN FRANCISCO — California may soon place animal abusers on the same level as sex offenders by listing them in an online registry, complete with their home addresses and places of employment.
The proposal, made in a bill introduced Friday by the State Senate’s majority leader, Dean Florez, would be the first of its kind in the country and is just the latest law geared toward animal rights in a state that has recently given new protections to chickens, pigs and cattle.
Mr. Florez, a Democrat who is chairman of the Food and Agriculture Committee, said the law would provide information for those who “have animals and want to take care of them,” a broad contingent in California, with its large farming interests and millions of pet owners. Animal protection is also, he said, a rare bipartisan issue in the state, which has suffered bitter partisan finger-pointing in the wake of protracted budget woes. “We have done well with these laws,” he said.
Last fall, California became the first state to outlaw so-called tail-docking of dairy cows, where the tail is partly amputated to ease milking. In 2008, voters in the state passed Proposition 2, which gave hens, calves and pigs more room in their crates or cages. That law has upset many in the California egg industry and prompted some agriculturally-minded residents to even talk about seceding from the state.
Under Mr. Florez’s bill, 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.
The bill was drafted with help from the Animal Legal Defense Fund, an animal-protection group based in Cotati, Calif., north of San Francisco. The group has promoted the registry not only as a way to notify the public but also as a possible early warning system for other crimes.
“We know there’s a link between those who abuse animals and those who perform other forms of violence,” said Stephan Otto, the group’s director of legislative affairs. “Presumably if we’re able to track animal abusers and be able to know where they live, there will be less opportunity where those vulnerable to them would be near them.”
In addition to sex offenders, California lists arsonists in an online registry, and the animal abusers would be listed on a similar site, Mr. Florez said. Such registries have raised privacy concerns from some civil libertarians, but Joshua Marquis, a member of the defense fund’s board and the district attorney in Clatsop County, Ore., said the worries were unfounded.
“Does it turn that person into a pariah? No,” Mr. Marquis said. “But it gives information to someone who might be considering hiring that person for a job.” He added: “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.”
One supporter of the proposed law, Gillian Deegan, an assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Botetourt County, Va., says 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.
“A lot of times these people will just pick up and move to another jurisdiction or another state if they get caught,” said Ms. Deegan, who has written on animal welfare laws. “It would definitely help on those types of cases where people jump around.” One Web site — Petabuse.com — already offers a type of online registry, with listings of animal offenders and their crimes.
Such registries have been introduced in other states, but never passed. In 2008, a similar bill in Tennessee stalled after passing the State Senate. That legislation was endorsed by the Humane Society of the United States, said Wayne Pacelle, the president and chief executive of the society.
Mr. Pacelle said that the proposed financing mechanism for the California bill, a small tax on pet food, was “an extremely controversial idea” and unpopular with the pet food industry. Taxes are usually opposed by Republicans in California, and that gives Mr. Pacelle doubts about the bill’s prospects. “The idea of that succeeding in this climate in California is not high,” he said.
But the bill’s sponsor, Mr. Florez, who recently helped establish an Animal Protection Caucus, which includes Republican members of the State Senate and Assembly, says he is confident that he has the votes to move the measure forward and estimates that the registry would cost less than $1 million to establish. He also said his background — he hails from the farming-friendly Central Valley — will help the cause. “I think people think, well, if Dean is supporting it,” he said, “it can’t be that off the wall.”
Animal Abuse Law Will Protect Kids Too
February 24, 2010 Care2 Sharon Seltzer
A new bill proposed in Wisconsin is going a step farther than the animal abuse registry introduced to lawmakers in California. The legislation is taking into consideration the influence animal cruelty has on kids.
Assembly Bill 747 will create stiffer penalties for crimes against animals when they are committed in front of a minor child or cause a child to mistreat an animal.
Similar to the innovative California online registry, the Wisconsin bill also acknowledges that cruelty to animals is a problem that encompasses more than just hurting an animal. It hurts society as well.
In her story Do You Know Who Your Neighbors Are? Care2 blogger Alicia Graef said, “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.”
Assembly Bill 747 came about as a grassroots effort to reform Wisconsin’s statutes dealing with crimes against animals. Kathi Tucker is president of the organization pushing for the bill. The group is called Windchill Legacy.
She told Duluth News Tribune, “Children who are subjected to watching their family members abuse their pets are scarred for life, mentally, and often victims of child abuse themselves. They are also more likely to grow up and abuse their families and pets. We are doing what we can to stop this cycle of abuse.”
The group’s name is in honor of a 9-month-old colt that was found near death in a pasture in February 9, 2008. He was malnourished, covered in ice and snow and unable to stand. The wind chill that day was between 40 and 55 degrees below zero. The colt, nicknamed Windchill, was being boarded for the winter by his owner on a farm that Shane and Pamela Javenkoski shared with their family. Both adults were charged with animal negligence.
The little colt was covered in blankets and taken to a neighboring farm where he received medical attention and an outpouring of love from the public. He started to show signs of improvement over the next several days, but 20 days into his recovery - Windchill died.
That’s when the grassroots organization of neighbors and friends decided change the law and close up longstanding loopholes. They are asking that abusers undergo a psychological assessment, anger management, counseling or treatment. This is in addition to criminal charges and penalties.
Assembly Bill 747 also proposes protection to animals from irresponsible owners who fail to prevent their pets from excessive pain and suffering. The new law would have saved the life in a recent case where a dog was hit by car and made to suffer by its owners who refused to get veterinary help, euthanize or surrender him. The dog died of his injuries, one week later.
Laws like the California animal abuse registry and Wisconsin’s Bill 747 are needed to protect the public, kids and innocent animals from abuse and give officials the authority needed to prosecute cruel behavior.
Comment: Canada must do the same. As a concerned citizen, please continue to pressure politicians to create modern legislation on this important issue. The Animal Legal Defense Fund created National Justice for Animals Week in February 2009 and in February 2010, through its campaign, www.ExposeAnimalAbusers.org, is urging each state to establish a public registry of animal abusers.
March 11, 2010 Carmina Gooch's letter
Dear Members of Parliament:
Canada's animal cruelty laws are totally out of date, and despite the overwhelming majority of Canadians supporting strengthened legislation to protect animals, our existing regulations offer very little to those who need it most. It's outrageous that in the 21st Century, animals are still considered property under Section 446 of the Criminal Code of Canada.
Despite the fact that penalties for crimes of cruelty were increased in 2008, it's not enough. Proving a case under the Criminal Code is next to impossible, considering that an element of intent must be shown, and to date there have been no meaningful sentences. Punishment for those proven guilty under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act is also inadequate, with a maximum of six months in prison and a $10,000 fine (B.C.) hardly reflecting the severity of offences against the vulnerable and voiceless.
In the US, just this month a woman was sentenced to 10 years in prison for animal cruelty. From: wsmv.com
Centerville Tenn. -- She ran the
state's largest puppy mill; now Patricia Adkisson will spend 10 years in prison
for animal cruelty.
Also, in recent news, lawmakers in several states such as California, Tennessee, and Wisconsin are considering establishing public online animal abuse registries that would require anyone convicted of felony animal abuse to register. It has been well documented that animal abuse is a predictor of human abuse, and is often related to domestic violence, child abuse, and other crimes. The Animal Legal Defense Fund has an online campaign, "Expose Animal Abusers," that has garnered tremendous support from the public, animal advocates, and law enforcement. According to ALDF, "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."
There is no shortage of horrific news stories about animals being tortured, mutilated, and abused, before their lives painfully and cruelly come to an end. Whether they are dogs, cats, goats, rabbits, or horses, it is our duty to protect all animal species from the cowardly and evil living amongst us.
I look forward to hearing from you.
October 15, 2010 Suffolk County, on the eastern half of Long Island, has voted unanimously to create the nation's first animal abuse registry. The new measure would require county residents older than 18 to register on an online registry for five years after their convictions on animal abuse charges. It was approved earlier this week, and will require a six-month review by state officials before it goes on the books.
In an accompanying resolution to be voted on next month, animal shelters and those who sell animals will be prohibited from selling to any individual on the registry.
More than a dozen states have introduced legislation to establish similar registries.
September 17, 2014 FBI to Start Tracking Animal Cruelty Cases
December 30, 2014 Legally Brief: Protecting Pets from Domestic Violence