Think back over the media reports on people who abuse animals – from the true beasts who torture dogs and cats in myriad ways . . . to the poultry factory workers who stomp on chickens and the slaughter house employees who attack downer cows. Does anyone else out there wonder if those (too few) who are prosecuted for animal abuse get off too easily?
California has a good idea for creating another layer of punishment and possible deterrence: an on-line list of people convicted of a felony involving animal cruelty, including their addresses and places of employment – and a current photograph. Their offenses would be specified.
Such a list, or registry, would be the first in the country to put animal abusers on the same level as sex offenders. California also has an online arsonist registry.
The argument that identifying animal abusers would also serve as an early warning system for other forms of violence is beside the point if principle and justice are the real considerations here. Abuse of animals is enough cause to publicize the perpetrator.
Commenting on California’s proposed law, a Virginia attorney who has written on animal welfare laws says the registry could also help in tracking those who run puppy mills and animal-fighting rings, as well as hoarders.
The Humane Society of the US has endorsed the bill while pointing out that the funding mechanism proposed, a tax on pet food, would be very unpopular.
Right now, worthy as it sounds, this legislation remains to be seen in action.