The growing problem of animal abuse has led several cities and one state to create animal abuser registries. The registries work by listing the names and locations of those who have been convicted of crimes against animals. Depending on the the particular registry, names can remain listed for up to five years.
Currently, Tennessee is the only state with an animal registry law on the books. Cook County in Illinois and New York City have also implemented registries locally.
In Tennessee, the registry is overseen by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI). All offenders are listed by their names, birth dates, offenses, when they were convicted and when the listing expires. First offenders are listed for two years with each subsequent conviction adding five years. The registry can be accessed through every county office and the TBI itself.
Suffolk County, which is located on Long Island, New York, was the first to enact an animal abuser registry. Jon Cooper, a legislator for the county, said there is a strong connection between the abuse of animals and human violence. He added that serial killers often start out by torturing and killing animals before moving on to human prey, and the registry may save many human lives as well.
Those convicted of animal offenses in Suffolk County must pay a $50 fee and provide a recent photo along with all of the aliases they use. Failure to register results in a one-year prison term along with a $1,000 fine.
Animal activists are hopeful that more registry laws will be passed in the coming years.