Registry of Animal Abusers to be Considered by Florida Legislature
March 24, 2017
Bills introduced in the Florida legislature earlier this year (HB 871/SB 1628) propose creation of a statewide animal abusers’ registry in Florida, available online, that would list the names of those convicted of animal abuse, similar to Florida’s sexual offender registry. In addition, the law would make it a second-degree misdemeanor for a pet dealer to sell to anyone on the list. The Registry would be maintained through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the Florida Department of State also would urge breeders’ associations not to provide animals to anyone on the list.
Anyone convicted of felony animal cruelty, animal fighting, or sexual activities involving animals would be listed by name, along with their address and booking photo. Names stay on the registry for two years, unless the offender is convicted of animal abuse a second time – if so, the name is on the list for five years.
Some advocates argue that the registry would have an overall effect of encouraging courts and prosecutors to take animal cruelty more seriously, while also protecting animals from being sold to, or adopted by, abusers. Other advocates claim that the registries – which rarely include many names, since few people are convicted of these crimes – are not effective and are costly to maintain.
The State of Tennessee launched an animal abuse registry in 2015, and currently has seven people listed. Many other states have considered or are considering similar legislation. At the local level, many counties throughout the United States already have adopted animal abuse registries, including two Florida counties: Hillsborough and Marion County.