Animal Advocates: “New registry law not strong enough”

CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee(WDEF) – A new law aimed at preventing people convicted of animal abuse may not be as strong of a law as animal advocates had hoped.

When the Animal Abuser Registration Act was first written, the intent was to make sure people convicted of animal abuse went on a TBI registry.

But before the act was signed into law, it was amended to only place felony convictions for animal cruelty on the registry.

"In my opinion it’s not strong enough to be able to capture the group of people we want to look at, which are the animal abusers; whether it’s neglect and abuse or something much more serious," said Chattanooga Humane Educational Society Executive Director Bob Citrullo.

"Many of these case get pleaded down just to get them through the courts and it’s tough in these animal cruelty cases because a lot of resources are needed to investigate and seek prosecution," Said McKamey Animal Center Executive Director Jaime McAloon.

Animal Advocates say Josesph Gann is the prime example of why animal abusers should be placed on the TBI animal abuse registry. The 39-year old is accused of beating a dog to death with a hammer and feeding another small living dog to a pit bull.

"I think we have a shot to get this elevated to a felony. That’s what my hope," Citrullo said.

If convicted of felony animal abuse, Gann would be placed on the TBI registry for two years. The registry would keep him from legally owning a pet during that duration. But If his case is pled down to a misdemeanor, he would be free to walk into animal shelter to adopt a pet without being rejected because his name would not appear on the registry.

People who are convicted of animal hoarding or neglect will also not end up on the list because those crimes are misdemeanors.

Neglect and hoarding falls under the category of animal abuse but their not considered heinous enough to warrant a felony.

"People who abuse animals still go to shelters and adopt more animals. That’s a fact," McAloon said.

Animal advocates are worried the law is not strong enough to prevent another documented fact.

"It’s well documented that people who do this progress onto other things like murders and serial killings," Citrullo said.

The new law takes effect nest January.

Categories: Crime, Local News

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