While some cases make headlines that horrify us and others quietly touch those who witness the consequences firsthand, animal advocates continue to work tirelessly to protect our vulnerable companions from abuse and help victims heal. Now lawmakers have stepped up to address cruelty by making Tennessee the first in the nation to create a statewideregistry for animal abusers in an effort to keep both pets and communities safer.
The registry, which went live on January 1, is the result of the Tennessee Animal Abuser Registration Act, which was signed by Governor Bill Haslam earlier this spring.
It can now be accessed by anyone and will provide information about those convicted of animal cruelty and felony animal fighting, among other offenses, and will include their name, date of birth, photo and location. First-time offenders will stay on the registry for two years, while a second offense will keep them on there for five.
There aren’t any offenders publicly listed yet, but starting this month the registry will be updated by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
“We proposed this law not just to take a stand against animal cruelty, but to take concrete action to prevent abuse and deter those who repeatedly engage in the torture and killing of animals,” Sen. Jeff Yarbro, who sponsored the bill creating the registry, told The Huffington Post in November.
Lawmakers and animal advocates who support the new registry also hope it will help play an important role in keeping animals out of abusers’ hands, by making information available to rescues and shelters when they’re looking at potential adopters, in addition to making communities safer.
“Given the documented link between abuse of animals and violence against people,” Yarbro added, ”I think states should consider registries and numerous other measures to put a stop to such cruelty.”
Until now, measures like this have only been enacted on city and county levels, but hopefully other states won’t be far behind Tennessee.
According to a legislative run down from the National Anti-Vivisection Society, nearly a dozen other states considered similar bills this past year, including Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia, but none of them have passed anything yet.
For more info on how to support registries and protect pets from abuse, check out donotadoptlist.org.
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