A bipartisan bill introduced in North Carolina would create an online registry of residents convicted of abusing animals, with their photos and names on display for at least two years.
The bill, titled the North Carolina Abuser Registry Act and introduced by North Carolina Sens. Floyd McKissick (D-Durham) and Danny Britt (R-Robeson), would see the state’s Department of Public Safety create a public online registry that would display a mug shot of the abuser from their time of booking, their full name and other identifying information.
The registry would work in a similar manner to state sex offender registries. While first-offenders would be placed on the registry for two years, subsequent offenses could land someone on the list for five years. Additionally, repeat offenders would be forced to give up their animals and would also be prevented from owning an animal for five years under the proposal.
According to local television outlet WRAL, last year over 100 pending court cases in North Carolina would qualify for such an animal abuse registry similar to one that has existed in the state of Tennessee since 2015, which focuses on violent felony pet abuse. Cases include a cat-hoarding woman, a man who beheaded his mother’s miniature pinscher, and cases involving violent crimes toward pets.
Yet the North Carolina Abuser Registry Act has a much broader definition of abuse, which includes everything from neglect to cockfighting, inhumane animal transportation and maliciously chaining up dogs. Under the act, residents in the state such as a woman who recently pleaded guilty to 10 misdemeanor animal cruelty charges after her horses were discovered starved to death would certainly be listed on the proposed registry.
Speaking to CNN, Sen. McKissick noted that the legislation is a result of his “longstanding interest” in the problem.
“There’s been increasing instances of animal abuse and we really need to do anything we can to let people know this just isn’t acceptable conduct,” he commented, adding that the proposal joins a number of similar actions in other states to create registries of animal abusers.
In Indiana, lawmakers are also looking to create a similar registry. The bill is currently being considered by the state Senate Judiciary Committee.
Speaking to WRTV, Sen. J.D. Ford (D-Indianapolis) noted that Indian’s bill is popular and aims to protect local animal populations. The senator also noted that the problem isn’t solely a question of animals alone, explaining:
“Not only do we need to take animal cruelty seriously, but keeping an animal abuse registry would also help illuminate the link between animal abuse and violence towards humans. Intentional animal cruelty can be a sign of psychological distress and many times will identify individuals who are predisposed to committing acts of domestic violence.”
Florida has also considered a bill that would establish an animal abuse registry. In Ohio, a large county also launched a registry following the passage of a law that elevates some animal abuse cases from a misdemeanor to a felony.