(CN) – Tennessee’s new animal abuse registry, an online listing of people convicted in the state of offenses involving non-livestock and companion animals, went into effect on New Year’s Day.
Anyone convicted by a Tennessee court of committing an animal abuse crime will be listed on the registry beginning in 2016, according to the legislation. The law applies to “companion animals” like dogs and cats and other “non-livestock” animals. It does not cover livestock or wildlife.
Aggravated cruelty to animals, animal fighting or another criminal offense against animals all count as animal abuse for the purposes of the registry.
A bill passed last spring created the registry, and the law went into effect Jan 1. The registry legislation amended Tennessee Code Annotated Title 40, Chapter 39.
Offenders will be listed on the registry for two years, and will then be removed providing they have not been convicted of another animal abuse crime. If they’re convicted again, they’ll stay on the list for another five years, according to the legislation.
The publicly accessible animal abuse registry is maintained by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Listings will include an offender’s photograph, full name, and other identifying information deemed necessary. It will not include their Social Security number, driver’s license number, or other state or federal identification numbers.
Nobody had been added to the list as of Jan. 4. The website stated, “At this time, no individuals meet the legal requirement for inclusion on the registry.”
Tennessee is the first state to have a statewide animal abuse registry.
Humane Society of the Tennessee Valley spokeswoman Amber Mullins told HLN last October that “a public record could serve as a deterrent” for potential animal abusers. She also said it could help with pet adoptions.
“The main advantage is to be able to check the list before we do our adoptions. We interview the people who come in, of course, but we want to know that the animals are going to good homes. It gives us an extra route to ensure we can make that happen,” Mullins told the network.
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