In more American States, animal abusers might have to be registered like sex offenders. At the moment there are 11 States which have animal abuse legislation pending, and a growing number of municipalities including New York City, Chicago, and Tampa Bay are toughening their stance on animal abuse.
The question then becomes should British Columbia follow their lead?
While the main goal of collecting names of convicted animal abusers is to prevent them from being able to buy or adopt more pets, registry backers say such lists could also be a way to raise red flags about people who may commit crimes on human – ranging from domestic abuse, homicide and even perpetrators of mass shootings.
Under registry laws, people convicted of felony animal cruelty are required to submit information to the registry and pay a maintenance fee. Failing to do so brings fines and jail time. Shelters and pet dealers in a county with a registry are required to check it and risk stiff fines for providing an animal to anyone who is listed on the registry.
In Canada, police keep details of registered sex offenders and parents and guardians are able to make a formal request to find out whether an individual has committed a child sex offense. The registry is designed to protect children and neighborhoods from predators.
Would an animal registry do the same?
The registry would track abusers who move to other provinces, other neighborhoods, and other cities. People who build puppy mills, animal fighting rings, and general animal neglect will have a harder time getting another pet.
A recent online petition to introduce a similar initiative for people convicted of animal cruelty gathered thousands of signatures and is still ongoing.
Tennessee was the first state to introduce a registry in January 2016, However, not all the new registries are available to the public, but citizens in Tennessee can view the names, dates of birth, addresses and crime details of the state’s eight people convicted of animal cruelty.
People in Vancouver still remember after the 2010 Winter Olympics when 100 sled dogs were mercilessly killed execution-style after business slowed down. The dogs, some of which died slow, agonizing deaths, were buried in a mass grave. This barbaric act happened in full view of the other dogs in the back, leading to a frenzy of scared and frightened dogs. The owner of the company was charged and convicted but there is little protection for future animals if he was ever to repeat his crime.
In the US, acts of cruelty against animals have been tracked by the FBI since 2016 in the same way as crimes such as burglary, assault, grand theft auto and even homicide, allowing police to monitor and tackle the extent of animal neglect, torture, and other abuse.
In Canada, this role is largely filled by the SPCA. However, the SPCA doesn’t have law enforcement power that can arrest and detain animal abusers. It’s time for Canada to become tougher on animal abuse.