The Signal Tribune newspaper

Registered animal offenders?

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The concept of an animal abuse registry is to list those convicted of certain animal-related felonies on a public website as is done with sex offenders. As animal abuse is a violent act, often a precursor to violence against people, frequently a symptom of problems in children, and always present in the criminal histories of violent felony offenders, it must be taken seriously. It is also critical that in practice, such a registry would protect animals from future abuse, further public safety, and could withstand the necessary Constitutional scrutiny to justify the public branding of offenders.
This legislation is, at this moment, a first draft. It raises many questions and, at first blush, seems fraught with the possibility of unintended consequences. For example, this version of the statute mandates that a person convicted of the felony of dog theft be listed on the abuse registry. In other words, one who steals a valuable dog for a resale profit, or, an overzealous animal lover who steals a dog that appears to be mistreated, (illegal but it happens) could be placed on this abuse registry without ever having abused the dog.
Is this what the author intended? This is just one of a multitude of difficult legal and public policy issues present in this first draft.
While the intent of this law is laudable, the actual text must be commensurate with the goal. Otherwise, we are supporting a caption, a bill in name only, while enacting a quandary.
Accordingly, I will be carefully watching the evolution of and amendments to this legislation.

Madeline Bernstein
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Los Angeles

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Registered animal offenders?