US States And Counties Are Registering Animal Abusers Like Sex Offenders
People who torture animals have long been seen as despicable, but now every abused or abandoned cat or dog in the US will be safer following growing measures in the country.
More and more US states and counties are taking action against convicted animal abusers by revealing their names on an animal offenders registry, similar to how sex offenders are registered.
The state of Tennessee has already implemented the register, following the lead of counties like New York and Cook County, Illinois which tried it at a local level.
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Tennesse's registry is monitored by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and can be accessed at any local county office. Details listed on the register include the abuser's name, date of birth, offence, conviction date, and expiration date. Abusers must also supply a recent photo.
First time abusers of animals are added to the register for two years. If they go on to commit further offences against animals, they will remain on the register for a further five years each time. People who fail to register face a year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.
Suffolk County, located on the eastern part of Long Island, was the first county in the United States to develop its animal offenders registry.
One legislator in the country explained a law enforcement motivation behind the decision, as studies show that people who are cruel to animals are more likely to commit violent crime against people.
"We know there is a very strong correlation between animal abuse and domestic violence," said Suffolk County legislator Jon Cooper, the sponsor of the bill.
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"Almost every serial killer starts out by torturing animals, so in a strange sense we could end up protecting the lives of people."
Animal lovers in the UK have long been urging Britain's lawmakers to introduce its own abusers' register, with supporters including the Labour MP Stephen Kinnock and the Green MP Caroline Lucas.
One recent petition to introduce a similar initiative for people convicted of animal cruelty in the UK received around a quarter of a million signatures.
Late last year, the UK's Environment Secretary Michael Gove introduced new sentences that will see animal abusers receiving up to five years in prison.
The website of the UK-based Campaign for an Animal Abuser Register said that current animal welfare law is a start, but there are 'serious loopholes'.
"It's a surprise to many that at the moment there is no legal requirement to record an animal abuser's name and details on any Register, or to make abusers report any change in their details or address," the website reads.
"This means the police and prosecuting agencies can't keep track of offenders and prevent further cruelty to animals."
The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said that people convicted of animal cruelty or abuse are already logged on the Police National Computer.
However, it added the UK government felt information on existing databases about offenders needed to be better shared between forces.
Featured Image Credit: PA
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