An animal rights group out of California is creating a national database of convicted animal abusers. The Animal Legal Defense Fund of Cotati, California is asking states to provide public data in hopes of alerting adoption centers of convicted animal abusers.
For many shelters and rescues, saving an animal is a top priority. Finding that animal a safe and nurturing home is another main goal.
"It's important for our rescue to be able to check out anybody that's adopting because we have so many repeat offenders," said Amanda Woods, who works at Karen and Friends Animal Rescue located in Charleston, West Virginia.
In fact, the cat Woods fostered and subsequently adopted came from an abusive home whose owner was back on the market looking for another animal only months after having the cat taken away.
"To be able to go back and just have his name put in a database so that, that shelter would have already known without just luck that we caught it is very, very important because we don't want animals like her hurt," said Woods.
Currently, there is no main database for convicted animal abusers. The Animal Legal Defense Fund is attempting to change this by creating one.
"Most shelters have their own ‘Do Not Adopt' lists that they circulate amongst each other. But we wanted to make sure that our site is only populated with data that comes from official sources," said Chris Green, director of legislative affairs for the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
According to Green, the only way to find out if someone is on the convicted abuser list is to have both their full names and birthday. The registry would have public access because of the many different organizations and individuals selling or adopting their lists.
However, some like the Humane Society of the United States are against such a list. The organization issued an official statement to 13 News.
"Animal cruelty—like other crimes—must be reported, classified, and analyzed in a comprehensive manner that results in swift and efficient enforcement of the law and the general improvement of society. It is not clear that the current round of proposals to create a public registry database would materially advance these goals. In fact, it probably does nothing to help these people learn a new way of viewing and treating animals. Strengthening the human-animal bond is our ultimate goal, not deepening the break. We must utilize what energy and resources we can muster on the most effective approaches to the scourge of cruelty."
Green said he disagreed with the Humane Society's position.
"It's not going to be this scrolling gallery and it won't be involved with shamming or embarrassing anybody," he said. "The whole point is to prevent crime from happening again."
Others who have opposed the ‘Do Not Adopt' registry include civil liberties groups, who said it publicly shames abusers and violates their rights.
States would have the option to opt into the registry to provide information on the convicted animal abusers.