Bill to create Animal Abuser Registry passes Tennessee House
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
"I don't want anything happening to my animals, and if I don't know who's living around me, how can I protect them?" asked Chasity Garrett.
Garrett has several pets at home and wants to keep them as safe as she can. She said knowing if someone who has harmed animals lives in her neighborhood would help put her mind at ease.
A proposed bill creating an statewide database of animal abusers passed the Tennessee house this week. Similar to the state's Sex Offender Registry, the TBI would post pictures of those convicted of violent crimes against animals -- including aggravated cruelty and animal fighting.
"People would be surprised how many people go shelter to shelter looking for animals that have a record of animal abuse or cruelty," said Jamie McAloon Lampman, Executive Director of McKamey Animal Center.
McKamey investigates animal cruelty cases in Chattanooga. McAloon said they respond to 5,000 animal welfare calls each year.
Currently, anyone who wants to adopt a pet from the shelter must fill out a questionnaire that includes background questions.
"It's definitely going to make us do a better job at finding safe homes for the animals," McAloon said.
The Humane Educational Society also takes in animals, including stray ones who were abandoned and abused.
"You always have to wonder how did they go missing? Did they simply get scared off, get loose, or did somebody actually take them off their property?" said HES Executive Director Bob Citrullo, who believes people have the right to know if anyone violent lives in their area.
"When you go back and look at their history, this is what we find. They started harming animals and killing them, and they've progressed," said Citrullo.
If the bill is signed into law, the TBI would post the animal abusers who were convicted after January 1, 2016. They'd remain on the list for two years for the first offense and five years for any subsequent offense.