• Florida lawmakers propose creating animal abuse registry

    By: Danielle Avitable, Action News Jax


    Keeping animal abusers from adopting more pets is the goal of a proposed Florida House bill.

    House Bill 871 would create an animal abuse registry open to the public, listing everyone convicted of animal cruelty.

    "We don't want animals in the hands of people who are going to abuse them," Jacksonville resident Nicole Silvestre said.

    Founder of Florida Urgent Rescue Mike Merrill said this bill is long overdue.

    "We need to make sure people who abuse animals are prevented from ever buying or adopted an animal ever again,” Merrill said.

    State Rep. Jared Moskowitz is behind the bill.

    It would require all pet stores, breeders and shelters to check the registry before selling or adopting an animal.

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    The Florida Department of Law Enforcement would maintain it.

    "Studies have shown that there's a correlation between people who abuse animals and child abuse, sexual abuse, spousal abuse," Moskowitz said.

    But since it would only list convicted animal abusers, it wouldn’t list people like Lee Ponting, who was arrested after admitting to Action News Jax that he killed, tied up and buried his neighbor’s dog.

    "That's your neighbor and if he's not convicted how do people know about it? They don't," animal advocate Kim Townsend said.

    Nearly two months ago, Townsend created the national Do Not Adopt registry that lists people accused of abusing animals.

    "Florida is doing a great job in starting something, but it's just not enough," Townsend said.

    Tennessee passed this law last year, but the state is still in the early stages of it.

    If this does become law, there would be fines if the registry wasn’t checked before an animal was sold.

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