Is it time for an animal abuse registry? If your city or state had such registries, could more animal abuse be prevented and would that ease the financial burden of animal shelters and rescues?
An animal abuse registry could possibly prevent animal hoarders from collecting more animals. Many collie lovers know to be on the watch for two people: Nicholas Patterson and Elaine Kmiec. Yet both have a long history of animal abuse and neglect.
In the case Nicholas Patterson, when his reputation took a dive in Alabama, he moved to Naples, Florida. When he came under investigation for possible felony theft (embezzling) at the company where he worked in Florida, he returned to his hometown of Kellyton, AL, with collies. Not all of the collies survived. If there had been a registry in Alabama or Florida, that people from any state could check online, could this tragedy been prevented?
Elaine Kmiec, like Patterson, showed collies, but had a reputation as an animal hoarder. Her devotion to hoarding collies in Tomball, TX has been going on for several years and it was only a bankruptcy case that finally changed that. Yet, if there had been a Texas registry for animal abusers, then would fewer people have sold their pets and show quality animals to Kmiec? Kmiec had gone so far as to use assumed names, so that is also a problem, however if she was registered, then law enforcement would instantly know that she shouldn’t have pets since the results of a bankruptcy hearing might not be easily searched.
Besides animal hoarders, an animal abuse registry would prevent the sale of animals to people convicted of abuse, torture and neglect such as the cases of starvation and abandonment. You so often see the photos of skeletal animals floating around the Internet such as Patrick, but what will prevent the owner from getting another dog? Would you want to see the Oregon man accused of dragging a dog to death owning another animal?
The idea of an animal abuse registry isn’t an abstract notion. It is a reality for the citizens of New York City. In 2014, New York City Council passed the Animal Abuse Registration Act. That act requires any adult resident of NYC who has been convicted of animal abuse since Oct. 2, 2014, to contact the New York City Health Department so that the person can be added to the Animal Abuse Registry according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene website. Further, anyone who is required to register is “prohibited from owning, possessing custody of, or intentionally engaging in physical contact with any animal.” Rescue groups, animal shelters and pet shops in NYC are required to check the registry before transferring ownership of an animal.
Tennessee passed a bill on May 20, 2015 for a state-wide animal abuse registray. Some other states have also taken action, with varying results this year. Bills have failed this year in Connecticut, Texas,Virginia and West Virginia. Still considering animal abuse bills are Illinois (HB 3773), Michigan (HB 4355), New Jersey (A2389 and S 224), New York (A 343, A 482 and A 2484 with companion bill S 2935, and A 3355), and Pennsylvania (HB 351).
If your state or city hasn’t taken action, Animal Law Resource Center has a model law that you can propose to your local, state and national representatives. Such laws would cover abuse from animals as large as lions and other large carnivores that you wouldn’t like in your neighborhood to animals like rabbits, dogs and cats. How else will we stop animal abusers from going out and finding another animal?
In the case of animal hoarders, the resulting care, rehabilitation and legal costs are a burden to the local animal shelter who must shelter and care for the animals until the case is decided and the animals returned or released to adoption. In some cases, the burden falls upon non-profit rescues like Houston Collie Rescue in the dog hoarding case of Elaine Kmiec.
There is a sex offender registry to protect citizens from their potential neighbors and that’s been the subject of controversy. One of the main reasons for that registry is to protect children. Many humane societies began to protect children and animals. Is it time for an animal abuse registry in your city or state?