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August 27, 2010

Animal abuser registry proposed by county lawmaker in New York

This local story reports on a novel proposal to expand the use of criminal registries to animal abusers.  The piece is headlined "Suffolk law would place animal abusers on registry: Public could access names, photos of those convicted," and starts this way:

A county lawmaker is looking to create a public registry of convicted animal abusers in a move that would make Suffolk County the first municipality in the nation to create such a list to shame abusers and prevent them from adopting animals....

If passed, the names, aliases, addresses and photographs of animal abusers would compiled in a searchable database, much like the state's sex offender registry.

The convicted abusers would pay a $50 annual fee for upkeep of the registry, and those who fail to register would be charged $1,000 or face jail time.  The bill would also require pet stores and animal shelters to check the registry before allowing anyone to purchase or adopt an animal, and would prohibit giving an animal to a convicted abuser.

August 27, 2010 at 10:03 AM | Permalink


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California has an animal abuse registry in the works, SB 1277.

Given that 90,000 inmates sexually victimized, one wonders if the zoo keepers might find themselves on the animal abuse registry.

Posted by: George | Aug 27, 2010 1:27:04 PM

Ugh. No one who consumes meat can talk about animal abuse. (Disclaimer: I consume meat.)

Posted by: . | Aug 27, 2010 1:46:39 PM

I wonder how this would work in the case of someone buying live mice to feed their pet snakes (or crickets to feed their pet tarantulas)? How hard can a rider pull on a horse's bit before it becomes abusive? Should we allow registrants to work in pet supply stores? Should we prohibit registrants from coming within 2000' of a zoo?

This seems to me to be just as poorly thought out as all the sex offender registries in this country. Does Suffolk County really suffer from such a plague of animal abuse cases that it needs yet another expensive registry over and above the current animal cruelty laws?

Remember county residents, that while you could create such a registry, and put people on it who have ever been convicted of whatever crimes you include, you could not charge anyone convicted prior to the registry's creation. Like it or not, such a scheme will never be entirely self funding.

Posted by: Joe Power | Aug 27, 2010 2:06:22 PM

Have you people lost your mind. Once you have served your time for your crime you are suppossed to be presumed rehabilitaded. You are creating a way to cause continous punishment to those who have served their time. Not to mention that you are wasting precious goverment resources. How stupid can you be?

Disclaimer: I am an ex-felon. You people don't realize the animals you create with your laws. These men, myself included, have a tough time becoming productive citizens. At every juncture we are kicked back because of our past. You seem to want to keep us spending money on warehousing instead rehabilitation.
Prisons do nothing more than allow the inmates to educate each other on how to do better crime. They compare stories because they have no form of rehab or expectation that they can rejoin society. They have NO HOPE. Whose fault is that? The people who lay awake at night and dream up a way to insure that these people have absolutly no way to get back into society. You dont give them a chance and then you keep kicking them while they are down and then you complain when they recommit a crime. They too have families and responsibilities. Please think about these laws you create before you do a knee jerk reaction and create them.

Posted by: D.C. | Aug 27, 2010 2:11:12 PM

Actually I don't even understand the concept of sex offender registries. All felony convictions are public record and most (all?) states put them online. So why do we need registries if we already have these websites that let you search for felons?

Posted by: . | Aug 27, 2010 2:29:17 PM


This registry, if it comes to pass, will do nothing to implicate some of your concerns. The registry only places lawbreakers on a list--it does not create new criminal laws. To my knowledge, no animal abuse laws have been used to arrest snake feeders or equarians.

I'm not sure the registry is broad enough to implicate your other concerns, but here's my issue, which I think the registry does implicate: does the registry prohibit a spouse from owning a pet if the other spouse is on the registry? I imagine that, as a practical matter, this will operate similarly to firearm restrictions post-conviction.

I'm not sure that I disagree with the registry in principle, as I think that not enough is done about animal abuse as a general rule. I just worry about one-size-fits-all treatment.

Posted by: Res ipsa | Aug 27, 2010 3:46:01 PM

RI, you may well be correct that the registry, as currently proposed, does not cover my snake feeders and equarians, YET. (Nice word BTW - my dictionary lists equestrian but not equarian.) Experience with the sex offender registries, however, strongly suggests that these things have a way of creating immense pressure for an ever expanding definition of abuse in order to justify their continued growth and existence.

For a good example of this, one need only look at the 2009 Handley case (from the DOJ's press release: Iowa Man Pleads Guilty to Possessing Obscene Visual Representations of the Sexual Abuse of Children) where he was convicted of having in his large collection of Japanese manga two issues that the feds claimed showed child abuse even though there were no actual children shown or depicted and there was no evidence that he was any sort of a threat to children. Without the continuing need to justify the ever expanding war on a crime which does not seem to be itself expanding do you think the DOJ would have wasted all that time and money to get a conviction instead of just offering to take the 'offensive' issues and maybe put him on probation for a few years?

(People might also find it interesting to read CA Penal code sections 596 - 600 for a list of activities which are illegal in my state, such as giving away a dyed rabbit as a door prize. Now it is true that few of the minor charges listed there would be likely to land someone on the registry - at first - but experience says that over time more and more things will be added to the list.)

Your comparison of the proposed registry to post-conviction firearm restrictions is interesting but, I feel, falls short because the police don't make a public list of people so restricted. If I as an ex-felon not on parole possessed a gun (which I do not) but never used it there would be little danger of repurcussions. Registered Animal Abusers, on the other hand, would be at a much greater risk of repurcussions for the rest of their lives regardless of the circumstances of the original offense due to perpetual public exposure. Additionally, ex-felons not on parole are not required to prove this once a year nor pay for the priviledge of doing so.

A better way to fight animal abuse is to provide for sentences which ramp up with each conviction. This punishes the truly evil while allowing the rest a chance to reintegrate into society. I suspect it would also be a lot less expensive than a registry.

Posted by: Joe Power | Aug 27, 2010 7:45:35 PM

I am in favor of more registries. Animal abuse, violent crimes, DWI, overdue library books, solicitation of prostitution; anything and everything should be laid out in the open for everyone's friends, enemies, neighbors, stalkers and other assorted busybodies to haw and cackle over. Until the frightened and timid soccer moms are personally affected, we will never be rid of the shameful and useless travesty of the registries. As the registry regime will inevitably grow (Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureauocracy, anyone?), it must eventually collapse under its own ponderous weight. Of course, in the short run, many, many lives will be needlessly destroyed during this shameful era of the modern-day scarlet letter. But then again, our elected betters will have been successfully able to suckle off the public teat as they tell campfire stories about the boogyman of the moment.

Posted by: Mark # 1 | Aug 27, 2010 8:58:46 PM

All proposers of registries should be placed on a registry. Everyone should be immunized if they beat their ass. All service and product providers should be allowed to refuse them services or products. "Security. Security. Registry offender at cashier 1." Just throw them out.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 27, 2010 9:27:12 PM

Being on a registry would not have protected Megan. Her fatal mistake was to open her door when her molester knocked. This is a fraudulent approach to generate government make work. 123D would have protected Megan and several prior victims. The criminal dependent lawyer and government sinecure worker do not want the criminal in any scared or inconvenienced, so they put up phony programs with the appearance of cracking down, but doing nothing to protect the public.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 27, 2010 11:29:24 PM

My vote for honorary overseer of the proposed Suffolk County Animal Abuse Registry goes to Ace Ventura.

Mark #1's amusing and accurate take on the registries thing again raises the question of how much longer we can lay claim (with a straight face) to the slogan, land of the free and home of the brave.

All this nonsense...all this torment of people who've made a mistake of some sort at some point in their past. And none of it amounts to anything useful beyond the votes of fearful, angry morons ever eager to buy whatever the demagogues are selling.

Posted by: John K | Aug 28, 2010 11:13:28 AM

John K --

Why is it that to disagree with your boys-will-be-boys attitude toward criminals is to mark oneself as among "fearful, angry morons ever eager to buy whatever the demagogues are selling"?

And how odd to think that there is no such thing as principled or thoughtful opposition to your (minority) positions.

Where did that idea come from?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 28, 2010 4:12:12 PM

no offense bill but once the registry started to ILLEGALLY include those crimes that PREDATE it; sorry it and it's suporters became the butt of jokes and possible CRIMINAL CHARGES for treason.

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 28, 2010 6:43:09 PM

as for this idiotic statement!

"And how odd to think that there is no such thing as principled or thoughtful opposition to your (minority) positions"

Last time i looked one of those believer's of his so-called minority position would be Alaska you know one of the two states that STARTED the insanity! Who has now ruled in direct oppositon to the u.s. supreme court that the registry is IN FACT as well as IN LAW a punishment and therefore ILLEGAL when applied AFTER THE FACT.

Seeing as they are one of those who created it...i'd think they would KNOW WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT!

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 28, 2010 6:45:27 PM

If there's evidence these registries have accomplished anything of value, I haven't seen it. If there's a principled, moral argument for keeping or expanding their scope, I haven't heard it.

Posted by: John K | Aug 28, 2010 11:35:43 PM

The problem is that, as numerous of your comments attest, you see little or no value in ANY measure this country undertakes to deal with crime. Not the death penalty, not imprisonment, not even a short period of "draconian" home confinement for your broker friend who made a practice, and not unrelatedly a nice living, by lying about the income and assets of mortgage applicants. Since the lawyer he paid to rubberstamp this obviously dishonest maneuver said (on cue) that it was a "gray area" (your words), everything is A-OK.

Thus maketh the housing crisis, the banking crisis, the recession and all the misery flowing therefrom.

There is never greed, just error. Never malevolence, just "a mistake." Never brutality, just a syndrome. Never blameworthiness, just a cry for help.

The majority you repeatedly fail to convince, and thus label as "morons," thinks otherwise. Reflexively (and to an extent, defensively), you blame your failure to convince on their putative stupidity and empty-headed acceptance of the importunings of "demagogues." This is the reason you look down your nose at the unwashed masses of democracy, hoping that the non-politically accountable branch, the judiciary, will get you what you can't achieve at the ballot box (e.g., abolition). When that doesn't work either, you blame the country as a whole, wondering aloud (as you have recently) whether the United States is really a good and decent place.

This is worse than Blame America First. It's blame America First, Last and Always. You have numerous sympathizers, it's true, currently running the show in Washington.

The unwashed masses with have a say about that in nine weeks, thank goodness.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 29, 2010 8:33:22 AM

Thankfully--and though demagogues (and the torture cheerleader) must surely regret the prescience of the Founding Fathers--the rights protected by the constitution are not subject to majority vote.

Posted by: Mark # 1 | Aug 30, 2010 12:29:45 AM

Marky --

Just so you'll know: The Founders provided that provisions of the Constitution ARE subject to majority vote, just not a simple majority. Amendments may be formally proposed by, inter alia, Congress, upon a two-thirds vote by each chamber. If adopted by the legislatures of three-quarters of the states, any amendment so proposed is ratified.

Yes Marky, the Founders were prescient enough to allow the voice of the unwashed masses to be heard, your consternation notwithstanding.

P.S. They teach this stuff in about eighth grade, as you'll find out when you get there.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 30, 2010 9:13:45 AM

horse pucky bill a right is a right. if it can be changed by govt then it's not a right it's a privilage. I have a felling no matter what you say if the govt came out in public and announced it was officially removing one of the first 10 amendments to the constitution no matter how legal it might be with the right crooked votes....most of their heads would be on pikes in 48hrs or so.

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 30, 2010 2:09:49 PM

the govt knows that as well as i do. that's why we've had the last 40-50 years of little nicks and cuts into them. kind of a death of a 1,000 cuts instead of just coming out and saying you dont' have that right no more. they KNOW it would get them killed.

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 30, 2010 2:10:59 PM

rodsmith --

It's impossible not to like you, because you don't try the cleverly worded evasions that go on all the time on this forum, and you just speak your piece with no game-playing.

Still, every now and again, it might be to your benefit to know some law. To that end, I quote without comment Article V of the Constitution:

"The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate."

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 30, 2010 3:24:17 PM

oh i know the constitution but i still say the govt knows very well if they ever tried to come out and deliveritely strip one of the ORIGINAL 10 bill of rights amendments they are DEAD and they know it. i dont' care how legal it might be!

kind of brings back that old saying...."just becase it's legal! doesn't make it right!"

there would be enough of us willing to kill them all to stop it.

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 30, 2010 11:28:56 PM

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