AZ bill would treat animal abusers like sex offenders

PHOENIX - A proposed Arizona law would require people convicted of animal abuse to be treated like sex offenders.

House Bill 2310 would create a registry of convicted animal abusers similar to the state's current sex offender one.

"The chances are if you are an animal abuser you're going to commit violence on people also," said State Representative Steve Farley.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety would be in charge of the database, which could be searched by the public, which would include the offender's picture, address, and type of offense.

According to the bill, before a person is released from custody, law enforcement agencies will have to complete the registration of any person convicted of a violation.

First time offenders would have to register for a year. A second offense would require the person to register for life.

Anyone that fails to register could be charged with a misdemeanor.

The Arizona Humane Society said the registry could keep the organization from adopting animals out to people with a history of hurting them.

However, AHS Director of Medical Services, said she had questions about how the registry would be funded, enforced, and who would be required to register.

"If a person is going to be put on this registry and if they're going to be stigmatized as an animal abuser - that needs to be clear cut - misdemeanor or felony," said Bradley.

However, Farley said only someone who intentionally abused an animal would be required to register.

"We don't want someone to who accidentally left their dog in the car to be subject to this if a court of law has decided it wasn't their fault," said Farley.

A handful of states have also introduced similar legislation encouraged by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, a non-profit organization that works to promote animal protection.

Farley said the Animal Legal Defense Fund agreed to pay the start-up costs for the registry, estimated to be about $10,000.

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