Suffolk County, on the eastern half of Long Island, New York, moved this week to create the first-ever animal abuser registry, requiring people convicted of cruelty to animals to register or face jail time and fines, according to Huntington Patch.
Those convicted of animal abuse charges in Suffolk Country would be required to be on the registry for five years. Their names, addresses and photographs would be displayed online, in the first such database in the nation.
Database Similar To Megan’s Law
Just as Megan’s law is designed to keep sex offenders from striking again, so this law has been created in hopes of preventing animal abusers from inflicting further cruelty.
Under the measure, convicted animal cruelty offenders age 18 years and older must provide all their information to the registry within five days of release from jail or five days after their conviction. Offenders are also required to update registry information annually and pay an annual registration fee of $50. Those who fail to register or pay the fee could be subject to a fine of $1000 and/or a year in jail.
362 Pets Mistreated In Suffolk County Alone
The law was prompted by a number of recent animal abuse cases, including that of Sharon McDonough, a local woman who was accused last year of forcing her children to watch her torture and kill kittens and dozens of dogs, before burying the creatures in her backyard. So far this year in Suffolk County, 17 people have been brought up on animal abuse charges involving the mistreatment of 362 pets, a horrifyingly large number.
County Executive Steve Levy is expected to sign the legislation, which would then require a six-month review before it goes on the books.
The First Legislation Of Its Kind
IR 1879 is the first legislation of its kind to win passage in the U.S. Other places have tried and failed: earlier this year, lawmakers in California declined to pass a bill that would have provided such a registry there, and in 2008, the Tennessee Senate passed a similar ruling, but it languished in the House.
Animal welfare activists are naturally ecstatic about this law, and hope that it will indeed inspire governments around the nation, just as Megan’s Law registries for child molesters have proliferated in the past ten years.
Link Between Animal Abuse And Domestic Violence?
Some also believe that the move could reduce violent crime to humans. “We know there is a very strong correlation between animal abuse and domestic violence,” said Suffolk County legislator Jon Cooper, the bill’s sponsor. “Almost every serial killer starts out by torturing animals, so in a strange sense we could end up protecting the lives of people.”
Civil rights advocates may question this thinking, and wonder if some basic rights are being trampled on here. What do you think?
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