Table of Contents
- Animal abusers are being registered like sex offenders in these jurisdictions
- Center for Problem-Oriented Policing
- Animal cruelty facts and stats
- Who abuses animals?
- Most common victims
- Organized cruelty
- Correlation with domestic violence
- State legislative trends
- Changes in federal tracking
- What is a “Violent Crime?”
- Why Isn’t Animal Abuse Currently Considered a Violent Crime?
- Animal Abuse Should be Considered a Violent Crime!
- Changing the Law to Change Public Perception
- Animal Abuser Gets The Maximum Sentence
- Animal Abuse Registries
- People who are found guilty of animal abuse can now be identified via a specific registry, not unlike a sex offender registry.
- Of course, it would be much better if all fifty states would register animal abusers, but the first step in the right direction has definitely been taken.
- Join your friends or be the first to like our page
- In any case, the animal abuse registries will go a long way to putting a halt to animal abuse.
Animal abusers are being registered like sex offenders in these jurisdictions
A worker with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals holds a rescued dog in North Carolina, one of hundreds found in January in what the ASPCA said was one of the largest rescues in its 150-year history. (Gerry Broome/Associated Press) By Karin BrulliardKarin Brulliard Reporter and editor for Animalia September 13, 2016
Starting in November, convicted animal abusers in the county that includes Tampa will be easier to identify. Their names, photos and addresses will be published on a county-run website that is publicly searchable and similar to the online sex offender registries that have proliferated since the 1990s.
The animal abuser registry, passed last week by commissioners in Hillsborough County, is aimed at preventing people who have harmed animals from doing so again. Retailers and shelters will be required to have prospective pet adopters or purchasers sign an affidavit saying they’re not on the registry. Regular people seeking pet-sitters or new homes for their animals will be able to vet candidates. Law enforcement officials will, at least in theory, be able to keep tabs on offenders’ whereabouts.
The county is the latest in a tiny but growing group of U.S. jurisdictions to adopt such registries. A handful of New York counties have them, as does New York City, although that one isn’t accessible to the public. Cook County, Ill., whose county seat is Chicago, recently decided to create one. Tennessee started the first statewide registry in January, although it still has just three people on its list.
“Just as we place extra trust in teachers and law enforcement, so, too, should we ensure that those engaged in the handling of animals have a spotless record,” New Jersey state Rep. Troy Singleton (D) said about legislation he sponsored to make his state home to the second statewide animal abuse registry. He referred to the idea as a “first line of defense.”
The registries are part of widening efforts in the United States to punish and track animal abusers, who, research has shown, commit violence against people at higher rates than normal. All 50 states now have felony provisions for the gravest crimes against animals, although many offenses are still considered misdemeanors. The FBI has added animal cruelty to its list of Class A felonies, and this year began collecting data for such crimes the way it does for other serious offenses, including homicide.
“Most owners consider their pets to be family members,” Kevin Beckner, the Hillsborough County commissioner who pushed for the registry, said in a statement. “This Registry not only protects animals, but it can identify — and maybe even prevent — violence against humans, too.”
State Sen. Joe Fain of Washington held his dog, Waffles, last year as Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill Fain sponsored that expanded the state’s animal cruelty laws. (Rachel La Corte/Associated Press)
The registries have several limitations. For one thing, they’re local, not national, so a person with an animal cruelty record in Tampa wouldn’t be stopped from getting a cat in Miami. Most require the cooperation of offenders themselves, requiring them to register or face a fine.
And the tool is not without its detractors — some of whom include animal advocates. The chair of the Hillsborough County’s Animal Advisory Committee called the registry there “not sufficient at all,” according to the Tampa Bay Times. Retailers have protested the idea of putting salespeople in the position of saying no to potentially violent customers whose names pop up in an online search. That concern led the Florida county to require stores and adoption shelters to procure only an affidavit, which can be checked against the registry — and passed along to authorities if there’s a match — after the customer leaves. But it has been dismissed elsewhere.
Chicago commissioner John Fritchey, who proposed the Cook County registry, likened it to asking bartenders to turn away drunk patrons. “We don’t have special protections,” he told the Chicago Tribune.
Steven Shatkin, president of the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, told Philly.com that a registry in his state should be created in a “common-sense” way, making an argument that echoes the debate over the broad scope of sex offender registries, which list people whose crimes range from public urination to sexual assault of children.
A poodle confiscated in an animal cruelty case in Parker County, Tex., waits for his dinner in 2014. (Joyce Marshall/Star-Telegram via Associated Press)
“There are different degrees of abuse. There are offenders who intentionally kill or torture animals, or who are engaged in dogfighting. On the other end of the spectrum, there are pet owners who have an inadequate doghouse,” Shatkin said. “We wouldn’t want to paint both types of offenders with the same brush.”
Among the skeptics is the Humane Society of the United States, whose president and chief executive, Wayne Pacelle, wrote in 2010 that the “overwhelming proportion of animal abuse is perpetrated by people who neglect their own animals” and are unlikely to commit violence against other people and pets.
“Such individuals would pose a lesser threat to animals in the future if they received comprehensive mental health counseling,” Pacelle wrote at the time. “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.”
In an email Monday, Pacelle said he and the HSUS don’t oppose animal abuse registries but believe tougher enforcement — such as felony charges and the FBI’s data collection — are likely to “produce better outcomes.”
In a blog post published in May, Tree House Humane Society, a Chicago animal shelter, endorsed the registry that will begin there in 2017.
“This will be a very useful and objective tool for us to lean on when it comes to denying adopters,” one adoption counselor was quoted as saying. “Now, it won’t just be our gut instinct — we have actual documentation to lean on.”
Rhinos are having their horns hacked off for somebody’s art collection
Here’s how scientists got dogs to lie still in a brain scanner for eight minutes
An animal activist gave water to pigs bound for slaughter. Now she’s on trial for mischief.
ALBANY, N.Y. — Son of Sam, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer and the Columbine High School shooters are among the infamous criminals who had a history of hurting animals before they went on to target humans, a tendency that’s part of what’s behind a movement to create public online registries of known animal abusers.
New York is among 11 states with animal abuse registry bills pending in their legislatures, following Tennessee, which started its in 2016 along with a growing number of municipalities in recent years, including New York City, and the counties that include Chicago and Tampa, Florida.
“Animal abuse is a bridge crime,” said the sponsor of New York’s bill, Republican state Sen. Jim Tedisco, who noted that Nikolas Cruz, accused of killing 17 people in the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting on Feb. 14, reportedly also had a history of shooting small animals.
While the main goal of collecting names of convicted animal abusers is to prevent them from being able to adopt or purchase other animals, registry backers say such lists could also be a way to raise red flags about people who may commit other violent crimes ranging from domestic violence to mass shootings. But some animal welfare advocates, mostly notably the ASPCA, question how effective they can really be.
Under registry laws, people convicted of felony animal cruelty are required to submit information to the registry and pay a maintenance fee. Failing to do so brings fines and jail time. Shelters and pet dealers in a county with a registry are required to check it and risk stiff fines for providing an animal to anyone listed. It’s not difficult, since most registries have only a handful of names and mug shots of cruelty crimes ranging from dog fighting to beating or starving a pet to death.
A high-profile animal cruelty case is often the impetus for passing a registry law. In Nassau County on New York’s Long Island, it was the case of Miss Harper, a fawn-colored 7-month-old pit bull left earless and badly infected after the couple who bred her paid a friend to perform surgery he wasn’t licensed to do.
The couple had previously been charged with cruelty for putting bleach on another puppy. Since their convictions predated the registry, they’re free to buy and breed more dogs. Another loophole is the current scattershot nature of such registries. While neighboring Suffolk County on Long Island has a registry, along with 11 counties in upstate New York, many do not.
“There really needs to be a statewide law,” said Gary Rogers of the Nassau County Humane Society, which manages that county’s registry established in 2014. “Otherwise, someone on our registry can just go to another county to get an animal.”
Tedisco, who pushed through New York’s felony animal cruelty law in 1999, said the Miss Harper case underscores the need for passage of his statewide registry law, which would also require convicted offenders to get psychological evaluation and treatment.
Stephanie Bell, director of cruelty casework for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said PETA is strongly in favor of animal abuser registries. But not all animal welfare groups agree.
“Given the limited scope, reach and utilization of animal abuse registries, it is unlikely they would have any significant impact on the incidence of animal cruelty,” said Randall Lockwood, senior vice president of anti-cruelty projects for the ASPCA. The number of people who end up on registries is negligible, he said. Tennessee’s has just 12.
Leighann Lassiter, of the Humane Society of the United States, said that while her organization agrees with the motivation behind registries, it’s already possible to do a nationwide criminal background check on a potential pet adopter, which would reveal not only cruelty convictions, but also other violent crimes.
Instead, Lockwood said, communities should focus on strengthening anti-cruelty laws, using no-contact orders to prevent offenders from having contact with pets, livestock and wildlife, and expanding protective orders in domestic violence situations to include animals.
The other states considering registries are Hawaii, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington.
A new law is growing in popularity across the country to protect dogs, cats and other pets. Several United States jurisdictions have implemented an animal offenders registry, which is similar to how sex offenders are registered, and will publicly reveal the names of known animal abusers in the area.
Currently, Tennessee is the only place to implement a state-wide registry. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigations is currently monitoring the state’s registry, which can be accessed at any local office. However, other counties, such as Suffolk County in New York, Hillsborough Country in Florida and Cook County in Illinois, are have set up localized animal offender registries. Other states such as Texas, Connecticut and Washington are setting up similar initiatives.
The information a person will learn upon seeking out the registry is the name, date of birth, offense, conviction date and expiration date of all know abusers. First-time abusers’ names will stay on the list for two years and an additional five years will be added to their expiration date for every subsequent offense after the original.
“We know there is a very strong correlation between animal abuse and domestic violence,” Suffolk County legislator Jon Cooper, the bill’s sponsor, told Shared. “Almost every serial killer starts out by torturing animals, so in a strange sense we could end up protecting the lives of people.”
Those who are convicted abusers will have to pay a $50 registration fine and, if they’re 18 or older, they must also supply a recent photo and any aliases they go by for the registry. And if an abuser doesn’t register themselves, they could face up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.
If you suspect someone is abusing animals or selling animals illegally, The Humane Society of the United States recommends you call your local animal control agency as soon as possible or dial 911 if you’re unfamiliar with local organizations. If you make a report of alleged animal cruelty, the responding agency is required to investigate.
Lauren Smith McDonough Senior Editor Lauren is a senior editor at Hearst.
Center for Problem-Oriented Policing
Despite the lack of national data, most researchers agree that cases of neglect constitute the vast majority of animal cruelty cases.11 However, unless the neglect is extreme or involves a large number of animals, these cases are rarely discussed by the media. As a result, the public may not fully understand the prevalence and nature of animal cruelty.12
Harms Caused by Animal Cruelty
The most obvious harm caused by animal cruelty is the pain and suffering endured by the animal. In contrast to what is often presented by the media, happy endings in cases of physical cruelty are rare: the abuse is often ghastly and victim animals are rarely returned to good health or adopted by a loving family.13 Particularly in hoarding cases, severe crowding and a lack of socialization create health and behavior problems that may leave animals unadoptable and at risk of euthanasia.14 One study of animal cruelty cases in the media in 2003 found that 62 percent of the animal victims were either killed by the perpetrator or euthanized because of their injuries.15 Long-term outcomes are better for victims of mild neglect, provided their owners change their approach to the animal’s care.
In addition to the animal suffering inflicted in even the least sensational cases, the more complicated hoarding cases also generate significant public health concerns. Homes of hoarders are generally filthy, with an accumulation of animal feces and urine on the floor, sometimes several inches deep. The resulting ammonia gas creates toxic air. Utilities and major appliances usually do not work, and most of the basic activities for a functional and sanitary household (e.g., showering, sleeping in a bed, preparing food) are impaired. Carcasses of dead animals are often found in hoarding locations, many of which are eventually condemned.16
While animal cruelty is a serious social problem in its own right, interest in its association with other forms of violence has motivated a great deal of research. Groups of researchers in both the United States and the United Kingdom assert that people who harm or kill animals are at high risk of interpersonal violence.17 These researchers assert that people who mistreat animals will do so habitually and are likely to be violent to their partners and children. Further, they claim that victims of child abuse are likely to harm animals and are more likely to be violent toward humans as they mature. Most of these studies examined the prevalence of animal cruelty among incarcerated, violent offenders.
However, citing methodological flaws in the research and overly broad generalizations, a few researchers believe the link between animal cruelty and interpersonal violence has been overstated.18 Given that most people who have been cruel to animals have not gone on to commit increasingly violent acts towards humans, these researchers worry that assuming a direct link will cast the net too wide and result in misdirected resources.19 The same set of external factors (e.g., stress, poverty, substance abuse) may underlie multiple forms of violence. However, cruelty to animals, alone, is not a particularly influential predictor of interpersonal violence, and animal cruelty may precede or follow other types of violent offenses.20
Factors Contributing to Animal Cruelty
Understanding the factors that contribute to your problem will help you frame your own local analysis questions, determine effective measures in response, recognize key intervention points, and select appropriate responses.
Animal Victim Characteristics
Dogs and cats are the most frequent victims of neglect and physical cruelty, although birds, hamsters, gerbils, rabbits, and reptiles are sometimes abused. Most victims of animal cruelty are pets, not wild animals.21 A survey of veterinarians’ experience with abused animals and suspected abusers revealed that offenders may physically abuse younger animals (age 7 months to 2 years), who are full of energy and sometimes difficult to train.22
Wild animals (e.g., raccoons, possums, deer) may be brutally attacked by poachers who intentionally hit the animal with a car or beat them with a club or bat.23 The animals are killed not for their meat, but rather for sport or the thrill of causing harm.
Hoarding cases usually involve dogs and cats and most involve multiple species.24 These cases typically involve dozens of animals, or in extreme cases, hundreds.25
Neglected animals are often found in households where residents have alcohol and drug problems and where residents are overwhelmed and have difficulty meeting their own basic needs.26 Further, some pet owners are simply ignorant of animals’ basic needs and how to train them effectively.27 Even though their cruelty is unintentional, owners who lack this essential knowledge may severely neglect their animals.
Although a few studies have shown that a small proportion of violent adult criminals were chronic animal abusers as children, most children who are cruel to animals commit mild, infrequent acts of cruelty and eventually grow out of it.28 Their cruelty is motivated by curiosity, peer pressure, boredom, or a lack of knowledge about animals.29
Perpetrators are most likely to be older adolescents or young adults. Males commit intentional acts of cruelty toward animals more often than females.30 While abuse occurs at all socio-economic levels, it is concentrated in lower socioeconomic households.31 Physical cruelty is often motivated by unrealistic expectations about how animals should behave, and offenders cause pain and distress in an effort to control or retaliate against the animal. They may also express anger about other situations by abusing the animal.32 In domestic violence situations, offenders may abuse animals in an effort to intimidate or control their human victims.33
Although far less common than physical abuse or simple neglect, hoarding has attracted a disproportionate amount of research. As a result, the profile of a typical hoarder is far more specific. Hoarders are most frequently single females who live alone, do not work outside the home, and are socially isolated. However, hoarding cases also involve single males and couples of varying ages and living arrangements. Research has identified several types of hoarders, including the following:34
- Overwhelmed animal caregivers’ patterns of neglect are triggered by a change in circumstances or resources (e.g., loss of spouse or partner, onset of illness, loss of job). They have a strong attachment to their animals and may recognize they are not taking good care of them but are overextended and cannot address it.
- Rescuers have a strong personal mission to “save” animals, believe they are the only ones who care about animals’ well-being, and actively acquire animals. They deny their behavior is problematic and believe their animals are happy and healthy.
- Exploiters collect animals to serve their own needs and usually have a serious mental illness. They are indifferent to the harms they cause and generally reject all attempts to assist them.
Regardless of the motivation, without adequate treatment and limits on future pet ownership, nearly all hoarders reoffend.35
Times of Year and Locations Where Animal Cruelty Occurs
Research has not examined the specific locations where physical abuse or simple neglect occurs. We do know that although animal cruelty occurs at all socioeconomic levels and in all communities, it is concentrated in households of lower socioeconomic status.36 Media accounts suggest that animal cruelty occurs in or around private residences (when a pet is the victim) or in isolated public spaces (when the victim is a wild or stray animal). Although research describes the characteristics of the households in which hoarding occurs, we do not know the geographic concentrations of hoarding cases.37
Although the seasonal patterns of animal cruelty have not been researched in depth, the research implies that simple neglect (e.g., inadequate shelter) may be more prevalent during seasons with extreme temperatures.
The co-occurrence of animal cruelty with other forms of violence compounds the harms associated with it. Although the link between the physical abuse of animals and interpersonal violence is unlikely to be as causal as some research suggests, the occurrence of either type of violence should cue police to check whether other forms of mistreatment may also be present.38 The underlying conditions that create the opportunity for animal cruelty to occur (e.g., stress, deprivation, aggression, mental illness, prior victimization, drug and alcohol use) mirror the risk factors for interpersonal violence. As a result, people who abuse animals may be at risk of committing interpersonal violence, and vice versa. While presuming that people who abuse their pets also abuse their children or spouses is inappropriate, being vigilant about the potential co-occurrence of various forms of violence is only prudent.
Women in domestic violence situations may delay leaving a violent partner, in part because they are concerned about pets that would be left behind.39 Most domestic violence shelters do not accommodate animals. The social isolation and limited financial resources of domestic violence victims can prevent them from leaving their pets with family members, friends, or at a kennel. Many women in shelters report that their pets have been threatened, injured, or killed by their abusive partners. Batterers harm pets to exert control, prevent the victim from leaving, or coerce the victim to return.40
Finally, the chaos and filth that characterize hoarding locations have grave consequences for the health of the human inhabitants. Hoarders generally have poor hygiene and limited access to a sanitary environment for eating, bathing, and sleeping. These problems with self-care are often compounded by untreated mental illnesses.
Animal cruelty facts and stats
The shocking number of animal cruelty cases reported every day is just the tip of the iceberg—most cases are never reported. Unlike violent crimes against people, cases of animal abuse are not compiled by state or federal agencies, making it difficult to calculate just how common they are. However, we can use the information that is available to try to understand and prevent cases of abuse.
Who abuses animals?
Cruelty and neglect cross all social and economic boundaries and media reports suggest that animal abuse is common in both rural and urban areas.
- Intentional cruelty to animals is strongly correlated with other crimes, including violence against people.
- Hoarding behavior often victimizes animals. Sufferers of a hoarding disorder may impose severe neglect on animals by housing far more than they are able to adequately take care of. Serious animal neglect (such as hoarding) is often an indicator of people in need of social or mental health services.
- Surveys suggest that those who intentionally abuse animals are predominantly men under 30, while those involved in animal hoarding are more likely to be women over 60.
Most common victims
The animals whose abuse is most often reported are dogs, cats, horses and livestock. Undercover investigations have revealed that animal abuse abounds in the factory farm industry. But because of the weak protections afforded to livestock under state cruelty laws, only the most shocking cases are reported, and few are ever prosecuted.
Dogfighting, cockfighting and other forms of organized animal cruelty go hand in hand with other crimes, and continues in many areas of the United States due to public corruption.
- The HSUS documented uniformed police officers at a cockfighting pit in Kentucky.
- The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has prosecuted multiple cases where drug cartels were running narcotics through cockfighting and dogfighting operations.
- Dozens of homicides have occurred at cockfights and dogfights.
- A California man was killed in a disagreement about a $10 cockfight bet.
The HSUS’s investigative team combats complacent public officials and has worked with the FBI on public corruption cases in Tennessee and Virginia. In both instances, law enforcement officers were indicted and convicted.
Correlation with domestic violence
Data on domestic violence and child abuse cases reveal that a staggering number of animals are targeted by those who abuse their children or spouses.
- There are approximately 70 million pet dogs and 74.1 million pet cats in the U.S. where 20 men and women are assaulted per minute (an average of around 10 million a year).
- In one survey, 71 percent of domestic violence victims reported that their abuser also targeted pets.
- In one study of families under investigation for suspected child abuse, researchers found that pet abuse had occurred in 88 percent of the families under supervision for physical abuse of their children.
To put a stop to this pattern of violence, the Humane Society Legislative Fund supported the Pets and Women’s Safety (PAWS) Act, introduced to Congress in 2015 as H.R. 1258 and S.B. 1559. The PAWS Act would give victims of domestic abuse means to escape their abusers while keeping their companion animals safe—many victims remain in abusive households for fear of their pets’ safety.
State legislative trends
The HSUS has long led the push for stronger animal cruelty laws and provides training for law officials to detect and prosecute these crimes. With South Dakota joining the fight in March of 2014, animal cruelty laws now include felony provisions in all 50 states.
First vs. subsequent offense
Some state laws only allow felony charges if the perpetrator has a previous animal cruelty conviction. Given that only a fraction of animal cruelty acts are ever reported or successfully prosecuted, the HSUS is committed to supporting felony convictions in cases of egregious cruelty regardless of whether the perpetrator has a prior conviction.
- 46 of 50 states’ felony provisions are first-offense provisions.
- Four states (Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa and Mississippi) have laws that apply felony charges only to subsequent offenses.
- A majority of anti-cruelty laws are limited to cases involving aggravated cruelty, torture or cruelty to companion animals.
Changes in federal tracking
On January 1, 2016, the FBI added cruelty to animals as a category in the Uniform Crime Report, a nationwide crime reporting system commonly used in homicide investigations. While only about a third of U.S. communities currently participate in the system, the data generated will help create a clearer picture of animal abuse and guide strategies for intervention and enforcement. Data collection covers four categories: simple/gross neglect, intentional abuse and torture, organized abuse (such as dogfighting and cockfighting) and animal sexual abuse.
Donate today to stop cruelty like this
As news reports and undercover investigations reveal, animal abuse occurs with troubling regularity in the United States. No species of animal seems to be immune from this cruelty: from companion animals to circus animals to farmed animals, animal abuse is an increasingly concerning issue.
Perhaps more concerning is how little protection and justice animals are afforded under the law. Very often, animal abuse is simply ignored by authorities. When it is charged as a crime, defendants often get away with insignificant misdemeanor convictions and trivial fines as their only punishment. For example, a New Jersey woman who starved her dog, stuffed him into a trash bag, dumped him into a garbage disposal, and left him to die only received a $2,000 fine and 18 months of probation for her crime. In another case, workers who viciously kicked, stomped on, and beat dairy cows at an Idaho dairy farm received nothing more than minuscule $500 fines.
These disproportionate results may be because historically, animal abuse has not been considered a particularly serious crime. However, there are a number of reasons why animal abuse should be taken much more seriously and considered a “violent crime” deserving of stronger punishment.
What is a “Violent Crime?”
A “violent crime” is one where the victim of the crime is harmed by or threatened with violence. Under U.S. law, violent crimes include murder, rape, sexual assault, robbery, and assault. Such crimes are considered especially serious and are thus closely tracked by law enforcement and typically punished more harshly than other crimes.
Currently, a violent crime only qualifies as such if the victim of the crime is a human being. This means that an act of violence committed against an animal – no matter how egregious – is not technically considered a violent crime, and it is not punished as such.
Why Isn’t Animal Abuse Currently Considered a Violent Crime?
Astonishingly, animals are still considered property under the law, much the same as a table or chair. Because violent crimes contemplate harms committed against people and not against property, animal abuse does not qualify as a violent crime, despite the fact that animal abuse very obviously involves violence.
Instead, animal abuse is often treated as an infraction or low-level misdemeanor, typically punished by no more than a fine and probation.
Animal Abuse Should be Considered a Violent Crime!
There are a number of very important reasons that animal abuse should be considered a violent crime in our legal system.
First, we know based on personal experience and countless scientific studies that animals are not things. They are nothing like other “property” such as tables and chairs. Animals are sentient beings with the ability to feel a range of emotions, and they are harmed both physically and psychologically by violent abuse, much as human beings are. They deserve to be treated under the law as the complex creatures that they are.
Second, animal abuse is strongly linked with other forms of abuse, such as domestic violence and child abuse. One study found that animal abuse occurred in 88 percent of homes where child abuse had been discovered. Another study found that up to 83 percent of women entering domestic violence shelters report that their abusers also abuse the family pet. In fact, animal abusers are five times more likely to abuse people.
Changing the Law to Change Public Perception
By classifying animal abuse as a violent crime and tracking and punishing it accordingly, we will protect both helpless animals and the people animal abusers are more likely to abuse. While it is incredibly important to appropriately punish animal abusers this change would play an even larger role in the way we regard animals in our society.
When we consider the harm done to animals as equal to the harm done to members of our own species, we can begin to change cultural perceptions of animals and one day upgrade their status from being property to being individuals in their own right. It is only when this conscious change is made that we can hope to see a real change in the way that people treat and view animals. It’s not only an upgrade in the law, but an upgrade in our own values.
Image Source: Tim Dawson/Wikimedia Commons
Animal Abuser Gets The Maximum Sentence
RENO, NV – It’s a crime that shocked the community and led to death threats for the defendant and his attorney. Thursday October 1, 2015, 25-year-old Jason Brown was sentenced to 28 years in prison for the torture and killing of seven dogs in 2014.
Brown entered the courtroom Thursday with a bullet-proof vest and shackled arms and legs. There were plenty of sheriff’s deputies on hand. For those who thought this was overkill, consider the courtroom was full, and there was no way of telling who was sitting in the audience.
Brown had pleaded no contest to the torturing and killing of seven dogs. The gallery was packed and Judge Elliot Sattler warned everyone there would be no outbursts, comments… anything that would disrupt the proceedings. If it did happen, Judge Sattler warned the person would be removed from the courtroom.
The judge said there were two recordings that would not be shown to the gallery, that he would be the one to watch the video that would be placed into evidence.
The first person to take the stand was Daniel Preston, who said he was a former high school friend of Brown’s. He said he received a message on his phone in January of 2014 from Brown saying he had just left rehab after three days and was hanging out at a local hotel-casino.
Preston says Brown wrote he wanted to kill a dog. Preston says he then asked if Brown was high. The answer was yes. It was a dark comment, Preston said, but he just laughed it off.
But as reports of a crime in early July would reveal, it wasn’t just drug talk. July 8, Washoe County Animal Control officer Amber Balam testified she was called to the Super 8 Motel on South Virginia Street.
Inside room 162, she said she saw at least 20 syringes strewn about the room, along with various clothing items, collars, a dog crate, and bowl of dog food. But in the bathroom there was a gruesome discovery.
“In the bathroom in a bathtub there was an animal’s body. It appeared to be a small dog. There was a severed head and tail. There was also a chunk missing from the thigh area. In the refrigerator side door compartment there were heads of animals, appeared to be from small dogs. Above that were legs from small dogs. In the center rack of the refrigerator was a bucket. In the bucket appeared to be animal skins in it,” testified Balam.
Washoe County Sheriff Detective Joe Bowen testified detectives caught up with Brown, who initially told them a girl he knew was responsible. But later Bowen said Brown told them, “I blacked out and woke up to a big mess in the motel room.”
Bowen says the investigation turned up videos in which Brown had recorded himself torturing and killing dogs. In another tape he is getting high with a friend, showing the tape and describing how he would get the dogs.
On the audio portion of the tape, the only sound those in the gallery heard, Brown says he located dogs on Craig’s List and those he could not later sell, he would kill. He and his friend laugh about the dogs’ fate.
Two local residents took the stand and testified Jason showed up to their homes in and around July 3 and 4 and said he was looking for a dog as a gift to his mom. Both Angela Lopez and Charles Frank said Brown was dressed and acted appropriately. It would be their dogs tortured and cut up at the Super 8 Motel.
The courtroom sat silent as Judge Sattler watched the torture tape. He looked disturbed and admitted as such during sentencing. He said it was like watching child porn—something he was exposed to as a prosecutor with Washoe County DA’s office.
“Unfortunately you have to see images of innocent people. In most cases children being victimized in the most god-awful and horrific ways. And so as I watched the video in your case, it really was along those lines that I viewed it,” said Judge Sattler.
Brown’s attorney John Oakes said in all of his years of experience in the courtroom, as a prosecutor and defense attorney, he has seen nothing like this case. He said his client refused to look at his own videos.
Oakes says he has received death threats for defending Jason Brown.
After looking at the videos himself, Oakes told the court, he can understand the outrage. But Oakes went on to say Brown is not the person who was arrested more than a year ago. He says his client used heroin, meth, Seconal, Ambien, Xanax, to name just a few.
“Sometimes all at once,” Oakes told the court.
Oakes told Judge Sattler his client came from a wealthy family. They took him to rehab centers three times, but it was fruitless. But now, off drugs, Oakes said his client was courteous and getting on the right track. But Oakes told the court of all the friends and family members Jason had, they were split into two camps.
One camp wanted nothing to do with him. The other camp said they would write letters to the court, but none showed up. It was the first time Oakes says a client of his has never had anyone in the gallery watching on behalf of the defendant.
Jason Brown asked Judge Sattler for understanding. He had been in jail for 15 months and is sober.
“I never want to be at the point where I hurt things again. I am so tired by the ways that I have lived and so sick of the things that I have done,” Jason told the court.
Judge Sattler listened. But after looking at the tapes and analysis of a psychological expert, he sentenced Jason Brown to four years for each of seven counts of torturing and killing an animal. The sentences were to be served consecutively for a total of 28 years. With good behavior Brown could be out of prison in 11 years.
In his sentencing, Judge Sattler said it is widely believed that those who torture animals will eventually do the same to people. According to a forensic psychologist assigned to the Brown Case– that is not always true, Sattler said.
In the Jeffrey Dahmer case, Sattler said, Dahmer started with animals and ended with young men. There are other serial killers Sattler said, who never tortured animals. There are defendants who only torture animals, and stop there. Sattler said in the psychologist’s final analysis, there was no way of telling which direction Jason Brown is headed.
Animal Abuse Registries
Implementing animal abuser registries could prevent further cruelties to both people and animals.
Several states have legislation pending that would create animal abuser registries similar to child abuser and sex offender registries. An animal abuser registry would list individuals convicted of felony animal abuse or who committed certain violent offenses against animals.
Intentional animal cruelty is of particular concern as it is a sign of psychological distress and often indicates an individual may be predisposed to committing acts of violence toward humans. Since animal abuse is often an early sign of potential human abuse, tracking animal abusers would help protect not only the animals of a community but also the people. Therefore, creating and maintaining a registry of individuals convicted of felony animal cruelty can be an asset in identifying potential criminal behavior.
Many studies in psychology, sociology, and criminology have demonstrated that violent offenders frequently have childhood and adolescent histories of serious and repeated animal cruelty. Additionally, mental health professionals and top law enforcement officials consider the blatant disregard for life and suffering evidenced by all forms of cruelty to animals to be an unquestionable warning sign. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association identifies cruelty to animals as one of the diagnostic criteria for conduct disorders; and the FBI uses reports of animal cruelty in analyzing the threat potential of suspected and known criminals.
In addition, such registries could be valuable in tracking people who engage in illegal animal fighting, such as cockfighting and dog fighting; hoarders; and those who run puppy mills.
The following states have legislation pending:
NHES urges the citizens of these states to contact their legislators and encourage them to support a felony animal abuser registry in their state.
Animal Abuser Registries, June 2012
Animal Abuser Registries, Feb 2012
Animal Abuser Registries, Jan 2011
In some states and cities, animal abusers will now be registered on a blacklist, similar to a sex offender list. This is a major victory for animal rights, as the measure will prevent offenders from coming near pets and it also gives people a peace of mind. The ultimate goal is to stop animal abuse altogether, and an animal abusers registry is a huge step forward towards that goal.
Unfortunately, animal cruelty is something that occurs all around the world and it happens more often than many would think. According to Statistic Brain, the average number of reported animal abuse cases is 1,920 per year in the United States alone.
People who are found guilty of animal abuse can now be identified via a specific registry, not unlike a sex offender registry.
Pet shops, vets and individuals will have access to it, so that everyone knows whether a person could be trusted with an animal.
Tennessee is the first and currently only state with an animal abuse registry, although large cities are using the idea as well. New York City, Cook County and Tampa Bay have followed Tennessee’s example and have a citywide registry, which includes everyone convicted of animal cruelty.
“We know there is a very strong correlation between animal abuse and domestic violence,” Suffolk County legislator Jon Cooper said. “Almost every serial killer starts out by torturing animals, so in a strange sense we could end up protecting the lives of people.”
More states and cities could follow, and setting up a registry is currently under consideration in the states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Texas, Oregon and Washington.
Of course, it would be much better if all fifty states would register animal abusers, but the first step in the right direction has definitely been taken.
The registry is simple. Anyone can request to access the list at a local county office, and it will include a full name of offenders, a picture, the conviction date, the crime they’ve committed and the expiration date.
Join your friends or be the first to like our page
Convicted people have to pay a $50 fine and must provide a picture and any aliases they might be using. If someone refuses to do so, they risk a prison sentence of a year and can be fined up to a thousand dollars.
In any case, the animal abuse registries will go a long way to putting a halt to animal abuse.
It’s also perfect for people who are looking for a sitter to make sure their pets are safe and sound, or to reassure animal shelters and shops that pets will have a loving home.
The animal abuse registry definitely helps protect our furry friends, and we can only hope that more states will follow to end animal cruelty once and for all.
Watch CBSN Live
Animals lawyering up?
A North Carolina bill would put animal abusers’ names and faces on an online registry, much like a sex offender registry. The North Carolina Animal Abuser Registry Act was introduced by Senators Floyd McKissick and Danny Britt.
If the bill becomes a law, anyone in the state who abuses an animal after January 1, 2020, would be added to a public database. After the first offense, the animal abuser and their photograph would be on the registry for the next two years. A second offense would put the abuser on the list for five years.
The bill states that animal abusers may be forced to give up any animals they own. A repeat offender who is added to the list multiple times would have to give up their animals and would not be able to own any other animals for the next five years, the bill proposes.
Around the same time North Carolina’s Animal Abuser Registry Act was introduced, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed “Tommie’s Law,” which increases the penalty for animal abusers from a misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony, WFMY reports. That means animal abusers in the state could get one to five years in prison.
People from other states reacted to these bills on social media, including residents of Iowa, Arkansas and Maryland, hoping their state lawmakers would follow suit. A Change.org petition was created to urge lawmakers in Maryland to introduce an animal abuser registry, similar to the North Carolina bill.
Sponsors of 2019 Maryland House Bill 131: Animal Abuse Registry – Sign the Petition! https://t.co/2ugh1oTauC via @Change Please sign this petition to help an animal abuse registry which will have a website where animal abuse offenders’ names will be listed
— Carol Murray (@dixiecrl7) April 2, 2019
Remember to call Governor Hutchinson’s office this morning and tell him you support HB1778 the Animal Abuse bill. Here is his office number (501) 682-2345. Thank you Representative Jim Sorvillo. https://t.co/cK2BXcNmmA
— Jim Sorvillo (@Sorvillo4House) April 1, 2019
@Travel_Iowa, if your state has nothing to hide, why is Iowa considering legislation that would cover up the truth? I won’t stand for animal abuse anywhere, and if #Iowa passes a new ag-gag bill, I’m definitely reconsidering my travel plans! #AgGag #ThisIsIowa
— christian green (@cgree16) April 3, 2019 View CBS News In
- CBS News App Open
- Chrome Safari Continue