EDITOR'S NOTE: Will the animal abusers list include people who eat animals??
SAN FRANCISCO -- California may soon place animal abusers on the same level as sex offenders by listing them in an online registry, complete with their home addresses and places of employment.
The proposal, made in a bill introduced Friday by the State Senate's majority leader, Dean Florez, would be the first of its kind in the country and is just the latest law geared toward animal rights in a state that has recently given new protections to chickens, pigs and cattle.
Mr. Florez, a Democrat who is chairman of the Food and Agriculture Committee, said the law would provide information for those who "have animals and want to take care of them," a broad contingent in California, with its large farming interests and millions of pet owners. Animal protection is also, he said, a rare bipartisan issue in the state, which has suffered bitter partisan finger-pointing in the wake of protracted budget woes.
"We have done well with these laws," he said.
Last fall, California became the first state to outlaw so-called tail-docking of dairy cows, where the tail is partly amputated to ease milking. In 2008, voters in the state passed Proposition 2, which gave hens, calves and pigs more room in their crates or cages. That law has upset many in the California egg industry and prompted some agriculturally-minded residents to even talk about seceding from the state.
Under Mr. Florez's bill, any person convicted of a felony involving animal cruelty would have to register with the police and provide a range of personal information and a current photograph. That information would be posted online, along with information on the person's offense.
The bill was drafted with help from the Animal Legal Defense Fund, an animal-protection group based in Cotati, Calif., north of San Francisco. The group has promoted the registry not only as a way to notify the public but also as a possible early warning system for other crimes.
"We know there's a link between those who abuse animals and those who perform other forms of violence," said Stephan Otto, the group's director of legislative affairs. "Presumably if we're able to track animal abusers and be able to know where they live, there will be less opportunity where those vulnerable to them would be near them."