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Proposed bill would create animal abuse registry

The registry would track animal abusers as part of a larger bill that would reshape animal welfare in Florida.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Florida lawmakers are looking into a way to crack down on animal abuse in the Sunshine State.

A bill proposed last week would create an animal abuser registry - similar to the sex offender registry the state has had for 30 years.

Animal cruelty, fighting, abandonment - just a few of the crimes that would put someone on an undesirable list if a new law is approved.

Florida Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book proposed the concept for an animal abuse registry.

Book says its just one of several ideas veterinarians and advocates brought to her.

It's an idea that's caught Intracoastal West Veterinary Hospital Doctor Katie Green's attention.

"Having that knowledge in some kind of directory where they have less access to animals, knowing that, maybe that can help humans as well," said Green.

If passed into law, animal abusers would have to put their name, headshot and court judgment online for breeders and sellers to see.

The bill takes it a step further - stating that anyone on the registry would not be able to have an animal at all unless the court gives them permission.

Breeders and sellers would also be held accountable - they'd have to check the list before giving an animal to an abuser, otherwise, they'd face a warning the first time, and fine the second time.

Green believes the registry has the potential to keep not only animals safer, but people as well.

"We know with research that people who abuse animals tend to be more likely to abuse humans," said Green.

If lawmakers agree to this, which is a big if considering it was just proposed about a week ago, the punishment for an abuser not registering would be a second degree misdemeanor, which means up to 60 days in jail.

They'd get a misdemeanor for every day they don't abide by the law.

This bill still needs to go through several rounds of voting before it could land on the governor's desk for final approval.

The animal abuse registry is a small piece of the larger bill, which would also seek to ban dogs hanging their heads out of windows and declawing cats.

You can read the full bill here: https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2023/932

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