Animal abusers over the age of 18 in Colorado may soon find themselves treated like sex offenders if a bill seeking to create an animal registry passes.
House Bill 1087, scheduled for a hearing in the Colorado House Committee today, calls for adults convicted of animal cruelty to register their address, name and photo for police and public records.
Sponsored by State Rep. Jeanne Labuda, (D-District-1), the bill would keep offenders in the database for five years. The Department of Public Safety would incur a one-time cost of $160,000 though it's expected to generate less than $5,000 per year.
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. Supporters argue for publicity as animal abusers are at a higher risk of committing violence against people.
"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."
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.