Feb 1, 2013 12:39 AM by Sam Salzwedel

Lawmaker wants to track animal abusers like sex offenders

TUCSON - A Tucson lawmaker wants to make it easy to track animal abuse felons.

State Senator Steve Farley wants to make a database, similar to the sex offender registry, for people who commit serious crimes against animals.

"It's really important that we protect them," Farley said, "because they are so vulnerable and depend on us for their protection."

The Democrat said some of his Republican colleagues are interested in supporting the proposal.

Sara Dent is an animal advocate who volunteers for Smiling Dog Rescue, Pit n' Proud and All American Bully Buddies.

She is a little skeptical because criminal records are already available to the public.

"You can look up whatever you want on the internet," Dent said. "I don't see the extra added advantage."

She does like the idea of identifying people who abuse animals, because they are also likely to abuse people.

"For the most part, all of those people are going to be dangerous people with regards to animals," Dent said, "and their disregard for vulnerable beings whether they're 2-legged or 4-legged."

Farley is not worried about minor offenders being categorized with violent abusers. He said the system is only for serious felonies like dog-fighting and torture.

"These are the folks who we need to know about," Farley said. "I believe if you trust the public with too much information, I think that's better than not enough."

People would be in the database for one year for a first offense. They would be in there permanently on a second offense.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund helped write the law. They have even offered $10,000 to the state to offset the burden to taxpayers.

A county in New York already has similar legislation.


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