If state Representative Steve Farley has his way, people who abuse animals in Arizona would be treated like sex offenders.
Farley recently introduced House Bill 2310, which would force anyone convicted of abusing an animal to register with the state and have their name put on a list similar to a sex offender registry.
Under Farley's bill, anyone convicted of the following crimes would be forced to register as an animal abuser: cruelty to animals, animal fighting, presence at an animal fight, cockfighting (for some reason, cocks don't fall under "animal fighting"), presence at a cockfight, cruel and inhumane confinement of a pig during pregnancy or a calf raised for veal, and horse tripping.
As written, the bill would require first time offenders to register for a year. A second offense would require the person to register for life.
Only those who intentionally hurt an animal would be subject to the new law -- in other words, someone who accidentally left their dog in a hot car would not be forced to register.
Anyone who fails to register could be charged with a misdemeanor.
For a Legislature that in the past has busied itself with bills like the "Birther Bill," tackling the non-existent problem of race/gender-based abortions, and deciding on an official state gun, this bill seems to be a step in the right direction -- animal abuse is an actual problem in Arizona.
See our archives of animal abuse cases here.
For example, yesterday we brought you the story of Andre, a miniature pinscher who eyes were gouged out of his head before some psychopath with a BB gun used him for target practice. He was tied in a bag and left for dead in an empty lot on the west side of town.
Dr. Deborah Wilson, a veterinarian with Circle L Ranch Animal Rescue and
Sanctuary, helped treat Andre. She told us yesterday that people who abuse animals often times escalate their violence and start hurting humans. Serial killers, she says, typically get their start by hurting animals when they're children. Registering repeat animal abusers could help solve other crimes they commit against humans.
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See Farley's entire bill here.
Just in case you're not yet on board with Farley's bill, watch Sarah McLachlan's uber-depressing ad for the SPCA below.