We have a serious situation in Tennessee as the animal abuser registry bills continue to move forward. The House version, HB 147, sponsored by Rep. Darren Jernigan (D, 60) has cleared the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and has been referred to the Government Operations Committee. The Senate companion bill, SB 1204, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Yarboro (D, 21) has cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee and has been referred to the Senate Calendar Committee where it could be sent directly to the Senate floor for a vote.
The bills require the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to establish an online registry of anyone convicted of an animal abuse offense. This includes even misdemeanor animal cruelty charges for failure to provide proper shelter or tethering a dog resulting in bodily injury.
Dog breeders and sportsmen pride themselves on the care provided to their dogs. Regardless, one should never assume it is impossible to become involved in a disagreement with local officials over the adequacy of shelter or condition of kennel dogs. Lose the argument and your name, photograph, and case information will be included in an online registry which animal activists can access. Any information placed online about animal abusers will be widely circulated, putting these individuals at risk of harassment and vigilante justice.
Establishing animal abuser registries is a campaign created in 2002 and championed by the California-based Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) whose mission is to use the legal system to change the current property status of animals and advance the interest of animals in the legal system. In its history, ALDF has never promoted legislation to help people. Its litigation and legislative efforts are aimed at setting legal precedent for elevating the status of animals or adding costly regulations within animal agriculture, research, and pet industries that will undermine our use and ownership of animals. ALDF justifies the need for a registry with the claim that convicted animal abusers pose a real, ongoing threat to pets, family, and community; further claiming their actions will escalate to committing crimes against people. ALDF has even gone so far as to say animal abusers are potential serial killers.
The first registry bill was introduced in Colorado in 2002 and failed. Dozens of registry bills are introduced annually. These attempts have continually failed in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and previously in Tennessee. After suffering years of failure with their registry campaign, ALDF announced a new plan to create its own "Do Not Adopt List" which would contain the names of animal abusers from all 50 states. List information would be obtained from district attorneys nationwide after cases have been disposed.
Not even the HSUS or the ASPCA are in favor of these online registries.
In testimony submitted against the New York City registry, The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) stated, “We have questions about the concept of animal abuse registries because we know of no evidence that they can achieve their purported aim, and we worry that they may instead unwittingly do more harm than good. There are serious practical issues surrounding the concept of animal abuser registries, including the risk that having animal cruelty crimes associated with a long-term abuser registry could inadvertently decrease the prosecution of such offenses, that registries overlook the importance of addressing mental health issues often seen in animal cruelty offenders and that properly maintaining an animal abuser registry requires that there is a uniform, centralized tracking of animal crimes, which currently does not exist.”
HSUS issued the following statement of opposition to online registries. “Animal cruelty—like other crimes—must be reported, classified, and analyzed in a comprehensive manner that results in swift and efficient enforcement of the law and the general improvement of society. It is not clear that the current round of proposals to create a public registry database would materially advance these goals. In fact, it probably does nothing to help these people learn a new way of viewing and treating animals.”
Why is the Tennessee legislature pursuing this course of action to enact an unpopular registry and further the animal rights agenda of ALDF?
DO NOT let the legislature continue to move forward with an animal abuser registry which would make Tennessee the first state in the nation to embrace this animal rights program. Establishing the ALDF-inspired registry will bring shame forever to the state of Tennessee.
Contact your Representative and Senator immediately to oppose the animal abuser registry. Find House member contact here: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/house/members/ and Senate member contact here: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/senate/members/
More information on animal abuser registries can be found at the SAOVA website:
Please cross post widely.
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