The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Sen. Bill Stanley
Friday, January 17, 2014
By K.A. WAGONER - Staff Writer
State Sen. Bill Stanley (R-Glade Hill) has introduced a bill to establish an animal cruelty registry through the Department of Virginia State Police (VSP).
The legislation, SB32, would require the VSP superintendent to establish and maintain an animal cruelty registry for public access on the VSP website.
The registry would include the names and addresses of persons convicted of certain felony animal cruelty offenses, such as animal fighting and maiming, killing or poisoning animals.
"The public has a right to know when someone has committed such a heinous act of cruelty, especially those people who adopt out animals," Stanley said. "This information should be readily accessible in one place."
The proposed legislation does provide for the removal of the name and information from the registry, upon request, if the offender isn't convicted of any additional felonies in a 15-year period.
"Research shows a link between the treatment of animals and the early identification of violent criminals," said Stanley, who is an attorney. "History shows that people who commit crimes against animals often do the same to people."
Animal cruelty is often one of the first symptoms of a child at risk for developing antisocial and aggressive behavioral disorders, according to the National Sheriff's Association. There is a scientifically proven connection between animal cruelty and child abuse, domestic violence and juvenile delinquency.
The sheriff's association advocates for the registry, stating it would be useful to law enforcement to have data on animal cruelty violations.
"Additional background information on a suspect, especially convictions indicating a violent nature, is beneficial to law enforcement in a criminal investigation," said Capt. Mark Torbert with the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.
Stanley has also introduced a bill to establish a fund to help low-income persons with the cost of spay and neuter surgeries.
Vouchers would be provided through rescue agencies to reduce the out-of-pocket cost for the surgery to $10, Stanley said.
"Hopefully, this will go a long way to help control the population of unwanted animals in our communities," he added, "lowering the kill rate in our shelters."
If passed, these bills would add to the growing animal protection laws in Virginia. The Humane Society of the United States last week ranked Virginia as the 10th best state for its range of laws to protect animals, including laws dealing with cruelty, fighting, wildlife, equines and research on animals.