What can be done to stop abusers from getting their hands on my fur friends?
Alford the American Stafford Terrier
Don't worry, com-paw-dre. Florida lawmakers have filed a bill that will make it ruff for convicted animal abusers to buy or adopt more pets.
Under House Bill 871, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement would create and maintain a public registry, listing anyone convicted of animal cruelty in the state. The bill would require all pet shops, breeders and shelters to check the registry before selling or adopting out animals. A person who fails to check the registry before selling or transferring an animal could face fines.
State Representative Jared Moskowitz is behind the bill. "People who have been convicted of animal abuse shouldn't be sold more animals," stated Moskowitz. "Making data available as a resource to pet dealers is a commonsense and transparent solution that ensures the safety of Florida's animals."
Those convicted once will have their name and mugshot posted on the registry for two years. If they're convicted again, their information will remain for another five years. Failure to register is punishable by time in the doghouse or a fine of up to $1,000.
Local representative Jason Fischer, a co-sponsor of HB 871, says it's a bill he hopes will pass. "Animals might not be human beings, but they are living beings," Fischer said. "For a lot of people, our animals are like family."
The bill also asserts that, beginning in 2019, the state would be required to annually send letters to registered breed associations, urging its members not to give or sell animals to those on the animal cruelty registry.
If passed, HB 871 would take effect starting July 1, 2017.
Some animal advocates say the registry wouldn't go far enough to prevent abuse, since it lists only convictions, not those who have been accused of abuse-still, it's a good start.
As of now, Tennessee is the only state with a statewide registry. Only two counties in Florida, Marion and Hillsborough, have local county registries.
While county registries can only prohibit someone from buying or adopting an animal in that specific county, statewide registries will prohibit these abusers from buying and adopting throughout the entire state. If each state enacted a similar bill, animal abuse could be combated on a much higher level. That would be a big win for animals everywhere.
I, for one, think animal abuse registries are a great tool for tracking animal abusers and protecting our fur friends from the bad guys, but they're certainly not a substitute for reporting animal cruelty cases to proper authorities. If you suspect animal abuse or neglect, take immediate action and report it. Time is critical. If you're not sure if what you suspect is considered animal cruelty, abuse, or neglect, report it. The appropriate authorities will investigate and determine the best course of action. No animal deserves to suffer and your quick action may save an animal's life.
Read about HB 871 at flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2017/0871/ByVersion.
Davi the dachshund isn't in the Florida legislature, but he's paw-fect for the job.