A House bill in Louisiana mandating that people who have been convicted of animal cruelty register on a statewide animal abuser registry won't take affect this year.
According to KLFY in Lafayette, House Bill No. 161 was sponsored by Rep. Robby Carter. The bill would require anyone found guilty of animal abuse to register within seven days and report their name and address. By law, they would then be prohibited from owning an animal for 10 years following the conviction. If they're convicted a second time, they would be prohibited for life.
In theory, the registration would allow adoption agencies like the Humane Society to check potential pet owners against names on the list to make sure no one with a history of harming animals is able to acquire another pet.
The requirement would apply to any resident of Louisiana, even if the crime took place out of state. If someone fails to register, they could faces fines of up to $1000 as well as six months in jail.
After garnering early support, the bill was pulled from committee consideration after some critical response. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) argues that registries are expensive to maintain and might prompt those charged with animal cruelty to plead to a lesser offense to avoid having to register. The group advocates for court-mandated no-contact orders for those convicted of such crimes. Critics in areas with registries argue that pet store or adoption agency employees are put in an uncomfortable position in declining to deal with a customer who might potentially be violent. Critics also say the registries should distinguish between actual cases of animal cruelty and events involving improper care, like a poorly maintained doghouse.
A number of jurisdictions in the country have similar registries, including Hillsborough County, Florida; Cook County, Illinois; and New York City. Rhode Island recently passed a bill for a registry that would prohibit those convicted of animal cruelty from owning an animal for 15 years. It's now awaiting Senate approval.