WASHINGTON – Efforts to establish online registries for animal abusers similar to those for sex offenders are gaining support, with legislation being considered in at least five states.
Among the efforts is Florida state Sen. Mike Fasano’s proposed Dexter’s law, named after a kitten that was beaten to death in his state. His proposal would require convicted animal abusers to register with authorities. Their names, home addresses and photographs would be posted online, and they would be required to pay $50 a year to maintain the registry.
Registries also have been proposed in Maryland, Colorado, Arizona and New York. Stephan K. Otto, director of legislative affairs for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, expects similar proposals in more states.
Suffolk County on Long Island in 2010 moved to create a registry and has since been followed by two other New York counties. In Suffolk County, convicted abusers will appear on the registry for five years. Those failing to register are subject to a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail.
The New York counties also require pet stores and animal shelters to check the names of anyone seeking to adopt or buy an animal, Otto said.
Maryland state Sen. Ronald Young said he plans to introduce legislation in the wake of two incidents in his state.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund says the registries can reduce the number of abused animals and serve as an early warning system for potentially violent criminals, citing cases of serial killers who had tortured animals as children.