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More States Considering Animal Abuser Registries

by Countable | 2.27.18

What’s the story?

  • Alleged Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz had a history of animal abuse—within hours of the massacre, reports poured in of Cruz abusing chickens, frogs, pot-bellied pigs, and his own dog.

  • With many infamous criminals – including serial killers and mass shooters - hurting animals before they targeted humans, 11 states are considering public online registries of known animal abusers.

Why does it matter?

  • "Animal abuse is a bridge crime," said the sponsor of New York’s bill, Republican state Sen. Jim Tedisco. Tedisco referred to reports that Cruz enjoyed torturing animals, bragging about his abuse and posting disturbing photos on social media.

  • As the Detroit News explained, "While the main goal of collecting names of convicted animal abusers is to prevent them from being able to adopt or purchase other animals, registry backers say such lists could also be a way to raise red flags about people who may commit other violent crimes ranging from domestic violence to mass shootings."

  • One study found that 43-percent of mass shooters have a history of animal abuse.

  • Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, the BTK Killer, the Night Stalker, Son of Sam, the Columbine High School shooters, and the Las Vegas gunman all have histories of animal abuse and torture.

  • John Thompson, deputy executive director of the National Sheriffs' Association, founded the National Law Enforcement Center on Animal Abuse in 2014. Its goal, the Sun Sentinel explained, is to "educate law enforcement officials about the link between animal abuse and other violent crimes."

  • "Anyone that can harm an animal is an evil person, and in my opinion, they have the potential to do anything," Thompson told the Sentinel.

  • In 2016, the FBI began tracking animal abuse crimes through the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS).

What do animal rights organizations say?

  • People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is strongly in favor of animal abuser registries.

  • Some animal welfare advocates, including the ASPSCA, question their effectiveness. "Given the limited scope, reach and utilization of animal abuse registries, it is unlikely they would have any significant impact on the incidence of animal cruelty," said Randall Lockwood, senior vice president of anti-cruelty projects for the ASPCA. Instead, he suggests communities focus on strengthening anti-cruelty laws.

What do you think?

Should more states create animal abuse registries? Hit Take Action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.

—Josh Herman

(Photo Credit: jmpaget / iStock)

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