The state of Michigan may adopt new laws that would make it more difficult for people to abuse animals. On Jan. 28, the state's Senate passed two bills that would give animal shelters more resources to identify if someone seeking a new pet has a history of animal abuse.
The two pieces of legislation are bipartisan, one sponsored by Republican state Sen. Rick Jones of Grand Ledge, the other by Democratic State Sen. Steve Bieda of Warren, according to MLive.
Jones’ bill would stipulate that Michigan residents convicted of crimes against animals be banned from owning an animal for five years to life.
Crimes that would receive at least a five-year ban on animal ownership include animal fighting, baiting, torturing, mutilating, disfiguring, killing, poisoning, sodomy or bestiality.
Less severe offenses that would only receive a five-year ban if committed twice include failure to provide adequate care, physical abuse, abandoning, and neglecting an animal.
“This legislation will make sure that once a person has victimized an animal they will not be allowed easy access to another victim,” Jones said, according to MLive.
Bieda’s bill would enable nonprofit animal shelters to run background checks using the Michigan State Police’s Internet Criminal History Access Tool (ICHAT), with no fee included.
Bieda said the new system will help both future animal and human victims of abusers.
“Many serial killers have admitted that they started torturing and killing animals before they moved on to their human victims,” Bieda explained. “With the passage of this legislation, we may be preventing human violence in the future.”
Violent and abusive criminals are known to test out their depravity on animals before moving on to humans.
"Animal abuse can be both a predictor and indicator of other forms of violence such as sexual abuse, elder abuse, spousal and or child abuse,” Dr. Betsy Coville told ABC Action News.
The two bills passed in the Michigan Senate in a 37-1 vote, and they are awaiting a vote in the Michigan House of Representatives Committee on Judiciary, MLive reports.
Initially, a statewide registry of convicted animal abusers was proposed, but that idea was deemed too costly.
Tennessee became the first state to install an animal abuse registry in January, WKRN notes.