Animal Abuse Registry

Criminal justice officials around the country have started paying a lot more attention to animal cruelty. (Wikimedia Commons photo / December 2, 2013)

Mushinsky and other activists say the sort of abusers the Humane Society is worried about are usually referred to as "hoarders." They are often elderly and try to collect and care for more animals than they have room or money to support.

"It's tough to deal with them," Mushinsky says of these aged hoarders. "They think they're doing the right thing."

She cites one Wallingford example from several years ago of a woman in her 80s who was trying to live with 25 dogs and more than 50 cats "on a very tiny income." All the animals were eventually removed, Mushinsky says.

Green's group has changed its approach and is now working to create its own national online database of abusers. The catch is that the system won't work unless states agree to electronically send lists of convicted animal abusers to the site and require that pet shelters, local pounds, and animal adoption agencies check all prospective pet owners for past conviction.

"We don't want to shame anybody," says Green. Unlike sex offender registries, the addresses and photos of the convicted animal abusers wouldn't be available on the Animal Legal Defense Fund's site.

A Massachusetts legislative plan, which would restrict abuser registry access to shelters, local pounds, pet breeders and pet stores, doesn't go far enough, Green says. The problem is that it wouldn't stop the kind of transfer of pets that led to the Puppy Doe case.

Puppy Doe was ended up with her last owner through a Craigslist advertisement, says Green.

Mushinsky says Internet ads have also "been used to abuse people as well as pets" and that no system will be able to stop all pet cruelty.

Despite the difficulties, Davis and Mushinsky say they plan to push for bipartisan legislative action on the animal cruelty issue in 2014.

"Currently," Green warns, "there is no mechanism to stop a convicted animal abuser from getting out of jail, walking across the street to a shelter to get another animal."

 

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