Monday, January 6, 2014

PA - Proposed: Registries of animal abusers in Pennsylvania and nationally

Abused dog Lexi
Original Article

Like we've said before, instead of having many different registries, why not one for all sinners?


By Beth Brelje

Shivering, starving and unloved, abused and neglected animals too commonly make news in the Poconos.

Etched in the minds of many is the photo of Lexi, the Pike County dog whose owner bound her legs and muzzle tightly with duct tape and left her in a chicken coop.

Another dog named Lexi was discovered in Monroe County with more than 20 broken bones from abuse.

Just as heartbreaking: There are animals that will never make the news but are spending winter outside, cowering from the cold, dying for affection and a water bowl that has not frozen over.

"It's not unique to the Poconos. It happens all over the state," Rep. Mike Carroll, D-118, said of animal abuse.

His office receives many calls from citizens concerned about animal abuse.

That is why Carroll has co-sponsored a bill that calls for an animal abuser registry in Pennsylvania.

Similar registries have been proposed in 26 states, but none has succeeded in becoming a state law, said Chris Green, legislative affairs director at the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

However, a few counties in New York have made it law for animal abusers to be put on a list, Green said.

In Pennsylvania, the legislation, House Bill 265, would require convicted animal abusers to register with the county sheriff once a year for 15 years.

The sheriff would then inform every residence, school, humane society, animal shelter and any business within a half-mile radius of the animal abuser's residence.

The state police would also get the abuser's name and put it on an online, publicly searchable database of animal abusers, similar to the current Megan's Law sex offender registry.

If the state law is passed, anyone registered on the list would be barred from owning an animal.

The bill was moved to the Judiciary Committee in January 2013, where it remains. The legislature has until November 2014 to act on it, or it will have to be reintroduced in a future session.

"It will take a commitment by the majority to run the bill out of the committee, hopefully in 2014," Carroll said.

He is optimistic because the bill has received bipartisan support so far.

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