A bill that would create a public registry for convicted animal abusers — similar to the one in place for sex offenders — was pulled from committee consideration after wind of potential opposition.
House Bill 161 by State Rep. Robby Carter, D-Amite, would have given convicted animal abuse offenders seven days following either the conviction or the date of their release from imprisonment to register with the Department of Agriculture and Forestry. Individuals convicted in another state would have a week after moving to Louisiana to register.
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Those on the registry would have been legally banned from owning an animal. The bill — which defines animal abuse to include sexual abuse of an animal, animal cruelty, dog fighting and hog fighting — would require first-time offenders to register for 10 years with further offenses resulting in a lifetime registry.
Failure to register in the 7-day-period would have resulted in a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment for not more than six months or both.
Retail pet stores and animal shelters would have been responsible for checking the registry before selling or giving an animal away. Organizations or businesses that sell or give an animal to someone on the registry would have had to pay up to $250 for a first offense, up to $500 for a second and up to $1,000 for a third.
The Humane Society of Louisiana (HSLA) backed the bill, saying it could help curb animal abuse in the state.
“It’s a great idea and it’s much needed,”said Jeff Dorson, the executive director of the Louisiana Humane Society.
But The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) said on its website registry policies are ineffective, citing maintenance costs, underuse and other avenues for abusers to obtain animals.
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“Although we appreciate that animal abuser registry proposals derive from a genuine motivation to take animal cruelty seriously, the ASPCA believes that this approach does little to protect animals or people and can have unintended consequences,” reads a statement on the ASPCA’s website.
“Existing strategies, such as well-enforced no-contact orders, mandated psychological assessment and inclusion of pets in orders of protection, provide a response that is more effective in preventing harm to animals and people,” it continues.
Tennessee has had an animal abuser registry since 2016, with a little over a dozen people registered. Other states, including North Carolina and Missouri, are considering bills that would implement similar registries.
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