A trend that is beginning to spread throughout the country is the development of an animal cruelty registry for those individuals who have been convicted of animal abuse. In a registry, the names, photos, and addresses of convicted abusers will be placed on publicly searchable websites, much like sex offender registries.
The purpose behind the creation of these registries is to prevent people who have abused animals from doing so again. People who are looking for everything from a new home for a pet or a pet-sitter can check their local registry before leaving their pet's wellbeing in the hands of an abuser.
There are a wide range of places that have adopted animal abuse registries, from small towns and counties, like Hillsborough County, or larger cities and states like New York City and Tennessee.
“Just as we place extra trust in teachers and law enforcement, so, too, should we ensure that those engaged in the handling of animals have a spotless record,” said New Jersey state Rep. Troy Singleton (D).
The concept of these registries has picked up some steam this year in an effort to protect domesticated pets and wild or feral animals. “Most owners consider their pets to be family members,” said Kevin Beckner, the Hillsborough County commissioner. “This Registry not only protects animals, but it can identify — and maybe even prevent — violence against humans, too.”
These registries are not without controversy and debate. Wayne Pacelle, the president and chief executive of The Humane Society, doubts the effectiveness of registries. He believes that more time and money should be spent on rehabilitating abusers because an “overwhelming proportion of animal abuse is perpetrated by people who neglect their own animals.” Those people, Pacelle argues, are highly unlikely to go on and injure someone else's pets.
From Pacelle's perspective, anyone caught abusing their pets should be subject to psychological treatment. “Such individuals would pose a lesser threat to animals in the future if they received comprehensive mental health counseling," argues Pacelle.
One animal rescue organization disagrees with Pacelle's position. The Tree House Humane Society welcomes the new Chicago registry that began this year. “This will be a very useful and objective tool for us to lean on when it comes to denying adopters,” said one adoption counselor. “Now, it won’t just be our gut instinct — we have actual documentation to lean on.”
What do you think? Are animal abuse registries worthwhile, or are there more effective means by which to reduce animal abuse and neglect? Share your thoughts on this subject with your family and friends on Facebook.