DENVER (AP) – A proposal to create an online registry for animal cruelty convicts akin to databases for sex offenders failed Monday as Colorado lawmakers worried that it would unfairly label some people.
Supporters of the legislation argued that people who mistreat animals are at a higher risk of committing much more serious crimes. Karen L. Naiman, who testified in support of the bill, listed several serial killers that reportedly mistreated animals. But Democratic Rep. Roger Wilson said he was concerned people on the registry would be unfairly stereotyped.
“If all animal abusers were listed in a public registry, would there not be some implication then, with their name there, that they in fact were capable of some more heinous crime and might be considered possible serial killers and rapists, and therefore I would not want them living next to me, and therefore exclude them from society altogether?” he asked.
House lawmakers rejected the proposal sponsored by Democratic Rep. Jeanne Labuda on a 9-3 committee vote. House Bill 1087 would have required adults convicted of cruelty to animals to register with the Department of Public Safety. They would also alert authorities where they live.
The first animal abuser registry was set up in Suffolk County, N.Y. Similar registries have been considered in a handful of states.
Labuda said the registry would only be implemented if the Department of Public Safety could contract with a nonprofit agency that would be responsible for maintenance and costs. People on the registry would remain on it for five years. Labuda said the registry would not apply to livestock owners.
Labuda said a registry would allow animal shelters to screen potential adopters and alert law enforcement about residents with a history of hoarding animals.
Opponents of the bill said there is no evidence that having such a registry would prevent animal abuse or other serious crimes.
“We don’t think it serves any purpose,” said Linda Hart, with the Colorado Federation of Dog Clubs. “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.”
LINK: House Bill 1087
– By Ivan Moreno, AP Writer
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