As the saying goes, everybody has an opinion. The reason that you are reading this article is that you want to know my opinion. I am just kidding. You want to have a thoughtful conversation about how we can progress as a society. And that is great. One question that was floated around by a few states in the USA was the idea of starting a registry of animal abusers. Realistically speaking, and why not? We already have databases of sexual abusers. It makes perfect sense then to register animal abusers. There are many breeders out there in the world who are trying at the very least to find loving homes for their pets. This is not a discussion around whether there should be any breeders at this time since one could argue that with the number of stray animals, and the number of dogs sitting in kennels across the world is skyrocketing. Those dogs should be the first priority in being picked up by a potential new owner.
With all that being said, a registry is a great idea. Not only that, but it is a responsible idea. Why would anyone want to see an animal being abused except someone who is, unfortunately, a little mentally disturbed and needs some help? Because of this fact, the necessary preventative measure should be put in place to try and see if you can avoid such issues. Speaking of prevention, we are not the only ones who are talking about this. Rather certain animal rights groups are working hard to leverage and try to create a nationwide database of animal abusers. This is not a new challenge. These kinds of conversations have been going on for at least a decade already of asking and pleading each of the states’ governments to develop such registries. Could it be, however, that not all animal welfare societies are on board? We will look at that soon.
Firstly, the Animal Legal Defense Fund of Cotati, California, plans to create a “Do Not Adopt” registry in hopes of alerting adoption centers of convicted animal abusers. There you go, somebody decided to step up to the plate. What does this entail? The group is asking for public data from states, many of which told the ALDF that creating a registry was too expensive for them. Now, states will merely have to opt into the database. This is a great way around the excuses of the states. Just simply, create the database for them, and let the pieces fall into place as states are allowed to contribute later on. The privately funded group stated that there is a tremendous amount of different ways to obtain pets. To be honest, besides going to a breeder, a store, a kennel, or a friend, I did not realize that there were so many ways to obtain a pet. Regardless of the vastness of the acquisition possibilities, there is very little on that any organizations or individuals can do to keep pets out of the wrong hands. So what if there is a registry? Who says that a breeder or friend will know to check it before the pet exchanges hands? Who says that they will even care?
“There is no existing mechanism to prevent someone convicted of animal abuse from walking into a shelter or going on Craigslist and getting a new animal,” Chris Green, ALDF director of legislative affairs, told the San Francisco Chronicle. Is it that true though that there are no existing mechanisms in place? Or perhaps over time, this will be a larger part of societal changes in the near future? Now we get into the possible opposing argument from an animal welfare society that is not as thrilled about the whole registry establishment idea. That is right, many times in the past when an attempt was made in order to legislate a registry they were halted by criticism from the Humane Society of the United States. That is a big deal because simply the Humane Society is a big deal in their own right. They claimed that such a public database is a method of shaming mentally unstable people that are deemed harmless because they are very unlikely to threaten pets of neighbors checking the list for offenders. They said, “Experience has made clear that such individuals would pose a lesser threat to animals in the future if they received comprehensive mental health counseling,” the HSUS blog read. “Shaming them with a public Internet profile is unlikely to affect their future behavior except perhaps to isolate them further from society and promote increased distrust of authority figures trying to help them.”
Talk about a contrast of opinions. I guess the major thing to address is who is going to be involved with using such a registry after it is instituted? At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter much who is using the database as long as the main purpose of it is preventing abusers from acquiring more animals. That is the chief objective. The case for establishing such a registry has been felt in many places all over the world. There has been an unsettling number of animal abuse cases this year. Simply put, a common database of animal abuse offenders would streamline protection efforts.
The ALDF also believes that if someone is an animal abuser now, they have the potential to soon thereafter become a human rights abuser. Based on that, it would make sense to establish a registry as then that would allow more eyes in the neighborhoods to look out for them to prevent future violent crimes. Anything that helps to install greater vigilance would also help the law enforcement agencies to do their jobs as well. Another nice little caveat is that if a number of abuse reports go down, then the money that goes towards animal rehabilitation across the communities will also go down.