Staring in January, Tennessee will have the country’s first statewide animal abuse registry.
Under the Tennessee Animal Abuser Registration Act, any resident convicted of animal abuse will have their name listed and made public on the Tennessee bureau of investigation website. For first time offenders, their name will remain in the list for two years. Repeat offenders will have their name on the list for five years.
“There are going to be consequences” to harming animals in Tennessee,” state Rep. Darren Jernigan (D), the bill’s sponsor in the House, told The Huffington Post. “If you’re going to burn a cat or kick a dog, you’re going to pay for it.”
Besides hopefully acting as a deterrent, the database can be used by animal shelters and organizations to check and see if a potential adopter is listed.
While some are opposed to the registry, including HSUS president Wayne Parcelle, who believe funds should be allocated towards mental health care and enforcing animal cruelty laws, state Sen. Jeff Yarbro (D), who sponsored the bill, said the initiative will not affect other programs, but rather will provide an additional resource to the animal-welfare community.
Yarbro also hopes other states consider adding an animal abuse registry, as it could not only prevent cruelty to animals but also to people. It has been reported that those who abuse animals are more likely to abuse humans. The registry could prevent future violence against people. Currently, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York (New York City already has a registry), Michigan, Pennsylvania has similar bills pending.
Image via Flickr/Dan Foy