Animal Abuse Registry Proposed by a Pair of Arizona Lawmakers

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Among the bills turned in early this legislative session is a proposal to create a registry of convicted animal abusers.

The bill, sponsored by Democratic Senator Steve Farley and Democratic Representative Andrew Sherwood, calls for the Arizona Department of Public Safety to run the registry, similarly to how it currently operates the state's sex-offender registry.

Senate Bill 1037 calls for a person convicted of certain animal abuses to register for a year. After a second conviction, he or she would have to register with the local Sheriff's Office once a year for life.

So a year after someone's first conviction, his name would be taken off of the registry website. And like a sex offender, an animal abuser would be committing a crime by failing to register. (Failing to register as a sex offender is a felony, but failing to register as an animal abuser would be a misdemeanor, under this bill.)

The bill also calls for the online registry to be searchable by name and address.

The crimes that would lead to someone being placed on the registry include bestiality, cruelty to animals, animal fighting, presence at an animal fight, cockfighting (a different law from other animal fights), presence at a cockfight, and horse tripping.

Senator Farley, as well as other legislative Democrats and Republicans, proposed this same law last year, but it never made it past the committees. The bill was also proposed -- and had bipartisan support -- in 2012.

Although the Animal Legal Defense Fund has gotten legislators in plenty of states to propose such a registry, no statewide registry has ever been put on the books. However, three counties in New York have enacted an animal-abuser registry.

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.

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