Legislators in California want to expose individuals who are cruel to animals. Proposed is a bill that would establish the first ever registry for these criminals. This new registry, built similar to the sex offender registry would allow all citizens access to a database of names of convicted abusers. The bill states that abuses such as intentional maiming, mutilation, torture, and wounding or killing a live animal.
The registry is not just built so you can snoop on your neighbors. It has a goal to make it easier for rescue shelters and adoption groups to identify those with criminal pasts that would not make them suitable owners. Law enforcement will also utilize the new tool for crime fighting.
While some might balk at putting money into something like this over other social issues, it’s worth pointing out that animal abuse is a precursor to more violent activity. The FBI has linked cruelty to animals to domestic violence, child abuse, serial murderers, and school shootings. Some of our most despicable killers like Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, and David Berkowitz tortured animals before starting their killing sprees. There are simply too many studies and too much statistics that point to links that the public can no longer ignore.
One area not discussed in the bill is children. While it’s probably not right to list a child on the registry, it would be nice to see some other laws put in place. A psychiatric evaluation should be mandated by any judge who oversees an animal abuse case by a child. It’s worth noting that many school shooters practiced their inhumane treatment on animals before moving to their classmates.
While there is a lot of support for the bill, the biggest stumbling block could be the funding. On the table is a tiny tax on pet food that would go toward building the registry. That seems a tad unfair as everyone will benefit from this, not just pet owners. Another idea being floated around is finding animal abusers extra and having that fee go toward maintaining the list. That seems like the fairest solution as they are the ones who are making this list a necessity in California.
It will be an interesting year to see if this bill can be passed. If it does, look for other states to start following suit and having a registry become the norm.
For more information, check out the Animal Legal Defense Fund who helped craft the bill. They have a petition you can sign as well as a letter drafted that you can send to your legislator.