Should Animal Abusers Have to Register Like Sex Offenders?

Bullwhipper.jpg
Megan's Law, meet Fido's Revenge.

A bill winding through the California Senate would, if passed, place convicted animal abusers on an online registry, just like sex offenders, complete with home addresses and places of employment.

State Senate majority leader Dean Florez (D-Fresno), who is also chairman of the Food and Agriculture Committee, introduced the first-of-its-kind legislation on Friday.

It  would require any person convicted of a felony involving animal cruelty to register with the police and provide a range of personal information and a current photograph. That information would be posted online, along with information on the person's offense.

Drafted with the help of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the bill has cache because Florez hails from California's farming-friendly Central Valley.

"I think people think, well, if Dean is supporting it, it can't be that off the wall," Florez tells the New York Times, which adds the Senate leader is confident he has the votes to move the measure forward.

The bill would cost less than $1 million to establish, according to Florez. But, although it's been endorsed by the Humane Society of the United States, Wayne Pacelle, the society's president and chief executive, fears its prospects are not great given the proposed financing mechanism: a small tax on pet food.

Thus, the bill will face opposition from the pet food industry and Republicans, who can be counted on to oppose tax hikes even when times aren't as tough as they are now, Pacelle surmises.

"The idea of that succeeding in this climate in California is not high," he tells the Times.

But Florez counters that animal protection is among the rare bipartisan issues in the state. He was a driving force behind the creation of the Animal Protection Caucus that includes Republican senators and Assembly members. As he tells the Times, "We have done well with these laws."
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