Pa. lawmaker urges registry of animal abusers

After the Pennsylvania SPCA broke up the biggest dog-fighting ring in its history last week, the gruesome images of the abused animals are still circulating.   State Sen. Larry Farnese of Philadelphia wants to establish a registry for animal abusers to help prevent further abuses.

He has introduced legislation requiring anyone convicted of animal abuse to register his or her name, address, place of employment, a recent photograph, and other personal information, within 10 days of conviction. Farnese said creation of an animal abuse registry in Pennsylvania would help law enforcement. “Like many crimes, we see repeat offenders in the animal cruelty area.  Every day you pick up the paper and there’s another article about some type of abuse of animals, whether it be pigeons, dogs, whatever it may be,” said Farnese. “I think we need to address this issue.  And I think we need to address it very quickly.” Offenders would be required to update their registration annually and whenever their information changed. They would also have to pay an annual $50 fee for maintenance of the registry.  Under the legislation, Pennsylvania State Police would maintain a central public registry. Kalli Agelakis of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office, applauded the legislation she said could protect vulnerable animals and the community.

“We know from data that people who abuse animals, it’s very strongly connected not only to business in other trades like drugs and guns, but also to interpersonal violence,” Agelakis said. “It’s not unusual to have these cases and to see not only animal cruelty charges, but to see domestic violence.” Suffolk County, N.Y., recently passed legislation creating the nation’s first such registry in response to a barrage of animal abuse incidents in that area.

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