Update: Sessions end soon in many states.
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Animal abuser registries provide help police identify convicted animal abusers who are involved in new allegations of abuse, and for shelters and adoption centers to screen out convicted animal abusers who may be trying to adopt an animal. Access to this information is crucial in keeping companion animals out of the hands of potential abusers.
Animal abuser registries, which are modeled on registries kept for convicted sex offenders, have gained popularity across the country. Legislation in some states makes the information on the registries available only to law enforcement and animal control and shelter facilities’ personnel, while other state bills also allow access from members of the public.
An ideal bill includes provisions to list convicted abusers for a minimum of five years; to require pet stores, animal control facilities and animal adoption groups to check the registry before transferring an animal; and to prohibit the ownership or possession of an animal by a convicted animal abuser while they are on the registry. Animal abusers should be open to the public as well as law enforcement officers and should be available as a tool in preventing the employment of an animal abuser in a business where there would be contact with animals.
In 2015, Tennessee became the first state to adopt a state-wide animal abuser registry, which took effect in January 2016.
Please TAKE ACTION below if your state in considering the creation of an animal abuser registry.
Arizona, SB 1141 would create a central animal abuser registry for convicted animal abusers and prohibit anyone from adopting out or transferring an animal to a person who is listed on the animal abuser registry. Held in committee 1/26/17. Session is over for 2017.
Connecticut, HB 5423, HB 5501, HB 5978 would establish a registry database of convicted animal abusers that can be accessed and searched by law enforcement agencies in order to prevent continued animal abuse and to help deter crimes against persons.
Florida HB 871 would create a registry of individuals convicted of felony animal cruelty, would distribute that list to breed associations, and maintain the names for two years after conviction. Pet dealers and adopters must check the registry and are barred from transferring an animal to an individual on the list. Died in Justice Appropriations Subcommittee 5/5/17.
Maryland, SB 84 would require the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to establish an Animal Abuse Registry and for persons convicted of crimes involving animal cruelty to be listed for 5 years. Committee reported unfavorably 1/30/17
Massachusetts, HB 852 would require the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services to create a central animal abuse registry for persons convicted of animal abuse crimes. Animal shelters, pet stores and animal breeders would be required to check the registry before transferring an animal to a new owner.
New Hampshire, HB 594 would require the creation of an animal cruelty register to be available to law enforcement officers, and a separate list to be made available to the public. Environment and Agriculture Committee determined it was “inexpedient to legislate” 2/14/17
New Jersey, A 1291/S 213, would require the Attorney General to maintain a list of convicted animal abusers; individuals would remain on the list for15 years after which they could petition for removal. The registry would be available to the public and may be used by an animal shelter, rescue, or animal control group to screen applicants for employment or for pet adoption.
A 3421/S 2295 would create an animal abuser registry to be used primarily to bar registrants from employment as an animal control officer. Passed the Assembly 1/23/17; Under consideration by Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee
New York, A 317/S 2558 would create an animal cruelty data base for all animal convictions; information would be available to all law enforcement entities, animal control officers, district attorneys, humane societies and animal rescue groups.
A 4731/S 1485 would create an animal abuser registry for felony animal abuse convictions for five years. While on the list, registrants cannot own or exercise over a companion animal; information must be used by animal shelters and pet dealers to confirm that potential owners are not on the list. Information would also be available to the public.
A 3497 would create an animal abuser central registry for individuals convicted of felony or other animal cruelty crimes. Registrants would be prohibited from owning or possessing any companion animal for five years and animal shelters and pet dealers would be required to check the registry to ensure that they do not sell or transfer an animal to a past animal abuser.
A 5070 would create a publicly-accessible animal abuser registry; individuals, schools, animal shelters and other businesses within a half-mile radius of the animal abuser’s residence would be contacted by the county sheriff after they register their presence.
S 4273 would require convicted animal abusers to register on a publicly available animal cruelty register and would prohibit them from owning a companion animal or working at a business establishment where animals are present.
Oregon, HB 2719 would require convicted animal abusers to register with the Department of State Policy, city police department or county sheriff’s office. Information may be made available online for public use and by request.
Rhode Island, H 5104 would establish an animal abuser registry for abusers for 15 years for first offense and for life thereafter. Prohibits animal shelters and pet sellers from transferring animal ownership to anyone listed on registry. Judiciary committee held bill for further study 3/7/17
Texas, HB 749 would establish an animal cruelty registry for individuals convicted on felony animal cruelty charges. Abusers would remain on the registry for 10 years and the information would be available to law enforcement personnel and animal control officers.
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Washington, SB 5804 would require the Washington state patrol to keep a registry of convicted animal abusers for use by law enforcement entities, veterinarians, animal breeders, adoption agencies and retail pet stores. Abusers on registry would be barred from owning an animal and from working at or volunteering with any humane society or business dealing with animals.
If your state does not have an animal abuser registry or legislation to create one, please send your legislator a model bill and request them to introduce an animal abuser registry in your state. Or send them a letter through the advocacy center asking them to consider such a measure.