On Jan. 1, Tennessee became the first state in the nation to maintain an online animal abuse registry.
Any person who has been convicted in the state of committing an animal abuse offense will be listed on the registry, according to Tennessee Senate Bill 1204. The law specifically references animal abuse towards dogs and cats; livestock and wildlife are not included.
Three types of animal abuse convictions will warrant inclusion on the registry:
- Aggravated cruelty to animals.
- Animal fighting, where the defendant’s act constitutes a felony.
- A criminal offense against animals.
The registry will include a photograph of the convicted animal abuser, his or her full legal name and any other identifying data the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation determines is necessary for identification purposes.
The individual’s information will remain on the registry for two years, if it is a first offense. If additional animal abuse convictions occur against the person, his or her name will remain on the registry for five years.
"I think these people's name need to be out there," Washington County, Tennessee Animal Shelter Director Debbie Dobbs told WCYB. "It needs to be publicized."
The registry currently does not have any persons listed.
“At this time, no individuals meet the legal requirement for inclusion on the registry,” it states.
In 2015, the states of Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia, all proposed similar legislation to that of Tennessee to create an animal abuse registry, the National Anti-Vivisection Society reports.
The legislation varies by state, as some propose to make the registry available only to law enforcement, pet stores, breeders or other official parties, while others wish to make it accessible to the public.