Animal abusers in one county in New York now have more to fear than bad karma.
In 2010, Suffolk County (on the eastern half of Long Island), passed a law to create the first-ever registry of animal abusers, and the bill came into effect this month. Under the new law, those convicted of animal abuse charges in the county will be listed on the registry for five years, with their names, addresses and photographs displayed online, and convicted abusers who fail to furnish the required information will face fines and jail time. The goal is to serve as a deterrent to animal abuse, much as “Megan’s Law” is designed to deter sex offenders from repeat offenses.
The law also requires pet stores, breeders and animal shelters to check the registry before selling animal companions or offering them for adoption, and prohibits them from giving custody of animals to anyone named in the registry, according to the Animal Law Coalition.
The law was prompted by 362 recent animal abuse cases in Suffolk Country, including some rather horrifying incidents that received enough media attention to bring the issue into the public awareness, generating support for the bill.
This is, apparently, the first such database in the USA, despite several prior efforts. Earlier in 2010, lawmakers in California and Tennessee rejected similar bills, and Colorado shot one down in February of this year, but advocates are marching onward. The Animal Legal Defense Fund has organized a national campaign to promote similar legislation across the USA. Nationwide animal abuse registries would make it harder for serial abusers to bypass the restrictions of one county or state merely by moving to another.
According to Care2:
Registries like Suffolk County’s could also prevent crimes that hurt humans. A person who abuses or kills animals is five times more likely to commit violence against humans and four times more likely to commit property crimes, according to a Business Week report on a 1997 study by Northeastern University and the Massachusetts SPCA.
You can see Suffolk County’s new online animal abuser registry here.