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Animal abuser online registry is proposed in California

February 22, 2010 |  6:43 pm

Animal

Animal abusers may soon be on same level as sex offenders by getting listed in an online registry, complete with their addresses and where they are employed, if one California senator has his way.

Friday, state Sen. Dean Florez (D) announced a bill for a statewide registry in California. If passed it would create the nation's first criminal registry for animal abusers.

Written with the aid of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the proposed bill would require any person convicted of a felony involving animal cruelty to register with the police and provide an array of personal information along with a current photograph, much like sex offenders. The information, along with the registrants' specific offense, would then be posted online, much like Petabuse.com, which offers limited listings.

The registry would list people convicted of a range of crimes from acts of violence (torture, mutilation, intentional killings, etc.), sexual abuse and animal fighting as well as neglect, including hoarding. Such registries would help protect animals, pet guardians and communities by preventing repeat offenses from anyone with an established history of abusing animals.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund has even launched a campaign, Expose Animal Abusers, to help states establish public animal abuser registries. The website enables the public to contact their state lawmakers and urge them to propose legislation for the creation of state registries.

They pointed to a number of instances in which a registry would be beneficial to prevent future abuse of animals. One of those was Shon Rahrig. While living in Ohio in 1999, Rahrig allegedly adopted several cats and a puppy from local shelters and tortured them sadistically. He poked out the eyes of a cat named Misty, broke her legs and jaw, cut off her paws, and left her bleeding in a laundry basket. His girlfriend turned him in, and he took a plea bargain that admitted abuse of only one animal. Rahrig was forbidden to own an animal for five years, but he was subsequently seen at an adoption event in California./p>

Florez said he is confident that he has the votes needed to move the bill forward and estimates that the registry would cost less than $1 million to produce.

“I think people think, well, if Dean is supporting it,” he said, “it can’t be that off the wall."

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-- Gerrick D. Kennedy (Follow me on Twitter @GerrickKennedy)

Photo: Ramon Muniz of the LAPD Animal Cruelty Task Force walks with fellow task force officer Kim Lormans through the North Central Animal Shelter kennels, looking for animals that may have been abused by their owners. Credit: Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times

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