Bill would create statewide animal abuser registry

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NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A local lawmaker is introducing legislation that would create a statewide animal abuser registry to prevent those with a history of mistreating animals from obtaining other animals.

State Rep. Arthur Corvese’s bill would require the registry to be made available on the attorney general’s website. The legislation would also require all animal shelters and pet sellers to check the registry prior to allowing the sale or adoption of any animal, or face a fine of up to $1,000.

The registry would include all animal abusers who were convicted, plead guilty or nolo contendere after the legislation has been put into place. The abuser’s information would be on the registry for 15 years after release from incarceration or upon conviction. Anyone convicted of a second offense will be placed on the registry for life.

Corvese is calling for all animal abusers to have five days from release or conviction to register and to pay a one-time $125 fee for administration and maintenance of the online registry. Those who fail to register would be subject to a misdemeanor conviction punishable by no more than one year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000. This punishment would also apply for abusers on the registry who are caught owning another animal, with the exception of farm animals for farmers and service animals for people with disabilities.

“People who have abused animals should not be allowed to own other animals. Pets are utterly defenseless, and allowing those who are known to abuse them to have more of them is subjecting those animals to an almost-certain fate of pain, suffering and perhaps death. This is a common-sense measure to prevent known abusers from having easy access to more likely victims,” Corvese, D-North Providence, said in a statement.

“An animal abuse registry would save animals from needless suffering. It would also provide assistance and peace of mind to the dedicated people who work to find homes for homeless animals. The last thing they want is to send a pet into the arms of an abuser, and this will give them a tool to avoid that situation,” Corvese said.

The legislation was introduced Tuesday in a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee. This is the second year in a row Corvese has introduced the bill.

The legislation is being introduced around the same time East Providence police are actively investigating a case of animal abuse, where 44 animals were rescued from a home on Floyd Avenue. State police are also investigating a case of animal cruelty where 11 animals were rescued from properties in Coventry and Exeter.