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Colorado Animal Abuse Registry Rejected By Lawmakers

First Posted: 01/31/2012 9:20 am Updated: 01/31/2012 5:36 pm

On Monday, Colorado lawmakers rejected a bill that would have required animal abusers over the age of 18 to register to their address, name and photo for police and public records similar to what is required of sex offenders, according to 9News.

7News reports that Linda Hart an opponent of the bill with the Colorado Federation of Dog Clubs said, "We don't think it serves any purpose. We also feel this bill would be even more restrictive toward the animal offenders than our child abuse laws or drunk drivers. Those people do not have their faces or their home addresses listed on a website online."

Lawmakers opposed to the bill were concerned the bill might unfairly stereotype animal abuse offenders while supporters argued that animal abusers are often at a higher risk of committing more serious crimes.

According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), the first such registry was created in Suffolk County, N.Y. just two years ago. Similar to websites for convicted sex offenders, the list of animal abusers would be open to the public.

ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells explains:

"Animal abuse is not only a danger to our cats, dogs, horses, and other animals, but also to people ... Many animal abusers have a history of domestic violence or other criminal activity, and there is a disturbing trend of animal abuse among our country's most notorious serial killers."

Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, David Berkowtiz ("The Son of Sam"), Albert DeSalvo ("The Boston Strangler") and Dennis Rader (Kansas' "BTK killer") all abused animals before their other crimes, as did many of the teenagers who went on shooting rampages at their high schools: Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris (Columbine, CO), Luke Woodham (Pearl, MS) and Kip Kinkel (Springfield, OR).

"But it's not just about how animal abusers end up also hurting or killing humans," said Wells. "It should be motivation enough to protect our animals from repeat offenders--and any abuse of any kind."

Colorado's animal abuse registry bill, House Bill 1087, was sponsored by State Rep. Jeanne Labuda, (D-District-1) and would have kept offenders in the database for five years. The Department of Public Safety would have incured a one-time cost of $160,000 though it was expected to generate less than $5,000 per year.

Other states that have considered an online animal abuse registry include Rhode Island, California, Tennessee, Arizona and Maryland.

In Maryland, the bill under discussion is called "Heidi's Law," after a seven-month-old Golden Retriever puppy who was shot four times while playing on her farm in Frederick County.

"I'm not trying to brand someone for life, just to put the warning flag up and keep pets away from them," said Maryland State Senator Ron Young of Heidi's Law.

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Filed by Matt Ferner  |