United States: More Proposed Animal Abuse Registries

Last Updated: April 12 2016
Article by Nancy E. Halpern, DVM, Esq.

Rhode Island already has one bill in the hopper (H7414) that was previously discussed.

Now there is another bill in Rhode Island (S2843) that would require registration for 15 years for any "person over eighteen (18) years of age who has been convicted of an offense defined as a felony in [Rhode Island] or in the comparable laws of another state."

If you have been convicted of such an offense and reside in Rhode Island for more than ten consecutive days, you are required to register, or face fines and jail time.

The registrant's name, address, place of appointment, offense for which they were convicted and other information is provided to the state attorney general and every residence, school, humane society, animal shelter and any other business within a half mile radius of the individual's residence or location.

Additionally, the public will be able to obtain access to the registry through the internet.

Tennessee is the only state with a statewide animal abuse registry. There are a number of cities and counties with registries, but I am unaware of the total number of such registries in the country.

There are now over 20 proposed bills across the country that would establish state animal abuse registries.

Of particular concern are those bills that require anyone convicted of or found liable for any violation of an act of animal cruelty, criminal or civil, to be included on a registry that in some states prohibits an individual from owning or working with animals.

A summary of the introduced bills, taken in part by information compiled by the AVMA, is included below.

State Bill Number Description
1. Illinois HB 5005 Requires the Department of Agriculture to create and maintain an animal-abuse registry. Any person 18 years of age or older that has been convicted of cruel treatment, aggravated cruelty, or animal torture would be required to register.
2. Illinois SB 3127 Establishes an animal abuse registry
3. Maryland SB 722 Increases the penalties for specified crimes related to animals; authorizing a court, as a condition of probation, to prohibit a specified defendant from owning, possessing, or residing with an animal; would require as a condition of probation the court to prohibit a specified defendant from owning, possessing, or residing with an animal; would require a veterinarian who has reason to believe that an animal that has been treated by the veterinarian has been subjected to abuse or neglect to make a specified report; etc.
4. Minnesota HF 2711 Animal abuser registry established, public safety commissioner required to post identifying information on the commissioner's website, and money appropriated
5. Missouri HB 1707 Establishes animal abuse registry.
6. New York AB 2484/SB 2935 Establishes a public registry for persons convicted of animal cruelty.
7. New Jersey S 145 Prohibits persons violating animal cruelty law from owning, keeping, or harboring animals; would require DHSS to establish and maintain website list of such persons.
8. New Jersey S 213 Establishes NJ Animal Abuser Registry.
9. New Jersey S 462 Establishes Animal Cruelty Offender Registry; prohibits purchase, adoption, and breeding of animals by animal cruelty offenders.
10. New Jersey A 308 Prohibits people convicted of criminal animal-cruelty offenses from owning domestic companion animals and from working or volunteering at animal-related organizations.
11. New Jersey A 832 Provides for the establishment of an animal-cruelty offender registry that would require the registration of animal cruelty offenders and allow for the public disclosure of certain information pertaining to those offenders.
12. New Jersey A 1397 Prohibits any person found guilty of, or liable for, a violation animal-cruelty laws from owning, keeping, or harboring an animal. The bill prohibits any such person from licensing or registering a dog or cat, or from being an animal-control officer. The bill also provides for the seizure and confiscation of animals from people convicted of, or liable for, a violation of the animal cruelty laws. A list of such violators would be available on a state website and communicated to kennels, shelters, pounds and pet shops.
13. New Jersey A 2041 Authorizes a court, upon finding a person guilty of abusing an animal or violating the state animal-cruelty laws, to issue an animal-protection order against the person adjudged guilty. The animal-protection order would require the person to refrain from interacting with an animal permanently or for a period of time specified by the court, and may apply to a specific animal with which the adjudged person has contact, or to any other animal.
14. New Jersey S 1477 Prohibits animal cruelty violators from working at, or owning or operating, an animal-related enterprise; designated as "Moose's Law."
15. New York AB 1600/SB 3030 Prohibits a person convicted of "Buster's Law" from owning or possessing a companion animal unless authorized by court order, after appropriate psychiatric or psychological testing.
16. New York AB 343 Creates a crime database of all convictions in New York state of animal cruelty, fighting, neglect, abandonment and mistreatment; and makes such crime database available to law-enforcement entities, humane societies, societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals, dog or cat protective associations and animal-control officers.
17. New York SB 6812 Creates a crime database of all convictions in New York state of animal cruelty, fighting, neglect, abandonment and mistreatment; makes such crime database available to all law enforcement entities, district attorneys, duly incorporated humane societies, societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals, dog or cat protective associations and animal control officers
18. Pennsylvania HB 351/SB 527 Creates an animal abuser registry.
19. Rhode Island H 7414 Creates the "Animal Abuser Registry Act" which would require all persons convicted of animal abuse to register with an on-line registry to be established and maintained by the attorney general's office.
20. Rhode Island S2843 Requires registration for 15 years for any "person over eighteen (18) years of age who has been convicted of an offense defined as a felony in [Rhode Island] or in the comparable laws of another state." The registrant's name, address, place of appointment, offense for which they were convicted and other information is provided to the state attorney general and every residence, school, humane society, animal shelter and any other business within a half mile radius of the individual's residence or location.
21. South Carolina H 5079 Establishes registry of any person over eighteen convicted of a felony violation of any provision of this State designed to protect animals from abuse, and sheriff's within ten days of receiving initial registration information from an animal abuser, the county sheriff shall contact every residence, school, humane society, animal shelter and any other business within a half mile radius of the animal abuser's residence or location and provide them with the animal abuser's registration information, with the exception of his social security number.
22. Washington SB 6234 Directs the state attorney general's office to maintain a registry of people convicted of animal-abuse offenses, and to make the registry public available on the Internet.
23. West Virginia HB 2618 Establishes a West Virginia Animal Abuse Registry requiring registration of persons convicted of certain crimes of animal abuse. The public registry would have a mandatory registration fee for offenders and breeders, shelters and pet shops would be required to consult the registry before adopting out or selling an animal.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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Nancy E. Halpern, DVM, Esq.
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