Public registry of animal abusers coming soon

Ohio resident Luanne Baker came home one evening and called to her dog Sunshine. But after repeated calls, and no sign of the Cocker Spaniel, Luanne went looking for her.

It turned out Sunshine had been trying to get up and make her way to Luanne, but she couldn’t. The dog had been beaten within inches of her life. Sunshine suffered broken bones, a punctured lung, and head trauma. The attack was so violent, the dog’s heart had become separated from the sternum. The perpetrator? Luanne’s boyfriend. He was jealous of the attention Luanne gave Sunshine.

Amazingly, Sunshine survived her injuries and is on her way to complete recovery. But the incident did have a lasting impact: Luanne teamed up with the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) in an effort to garner more rights–and protection–for victimized animals.

Today, ALDF announces the launch of its Expose Animal Abusers campaign. The idea is to establish a nationwide animal abuser registry–a public list in each state of anyone convicted of felony animal abuse (including torture, sexual abuse, animal fighting, and neglect). The goal? To prevent “repeat offenses from anyone with an established history of abusing animals.”

Legislative bills attempting to create statewide registries have been introduced in the past in Rhode Island, Colorado, and Tennessee. So far, none have passed. Friday in California, however, a bill for a such a registry was introduced by State Senator Dean Florez.

“We operate shelters in the hopes of giving abandoned pets a second chance at a loving home, not subjecting them to lives of continued abuse and neglect,” Florez said. “A registry of abusers would help ensure animals are not being adopted out to convicted abusers, end the cycle of abuse and increase the likelihood of finding these pets the forever home they deserve.”

With its Expose Animal Abusers campaign, the ALDF hopes to take the movement even further by turning it into a national registry. And through the website, citizens around the country can urge their lawmakers to enact such legislation in their own state. Public officials are often eager to support such bills, pointing to the strong correlation between the animal abuse and violence toward people.

“But it’s not just about how animal abusers end up also hurting or killing humans,” said ALDF Executive Stephen Wells. “It should be motivation enough to protect our animals from repeat offenders–and any abuse of any kind.”

Here at Dogtime, we couldn’t agree more. With torture, neglect, and killing still receiving unbelievably light sentences in many states, abusers can go on to commit more and more acts of violence. Thanks to Luanne Baker, Dean Florez, and Stephen Wells of the ALDF–not for long.