Legal penalties for animal abuse can greatly differ, but one type of consequence and punishment for the crime seems logical and natural – the prohibition to own another animal. It appears completely reasonable that an individual who brutally abused a dog should not be able to become the guardian of yet another dog, due to very obvious reasons. Yet, as it turns out, the law does not quite work in this predictable way. In fact, in most states in the U.S., a person convicted of animal abuse is free to acquire another animal in the future.
Currently, laws preventing known animal abusers from adopting animals exist in only 15 states, according to a Care2 petition launched in the case. About half of them have a limit on how long a judge can prevent an abuser from acquiring an animal – the limit is usually around five years. In the remaining states, the decision fully belongs to the judge. Many states require mental health counseling for convicted abusers, which is definitely a step in the right direction, but it is not enough to realistically ensure the safety of other animals. A number of municipalities, like New York City and Chicago, fortunately, keep registries in the matter and do not allow abusers to adopt. However, offenders are still able to get an animal from another county, since no national registry exists.
A law barring known abusers from acquiring more animals is vitally important for animals themselves, but it is also strongly connected to human safety. Animal abuse has been repeatedly linked to other types of violence, including domestic violence, child abuse, and other crimes. Allowing violent animal abusers to exercise their cruelty on animals further feeds the brutality and cannot be supported in good faith. The laws concerning convicted animal abusers need strengthening in more aspects than just one – for example, such offenders are also still allowed to purchase guns in the U.S.
Animal abuse is a serious crime that requires equally serious laws. Light penalties which exist in many states do not deter abusers from harming living creatures – and if certain steps can be made to protect animals from those who are most suspect to abuse them, they definitely should be undertaken. Click here to sign the petition urging states that do not have existing laws prohibiting abusers from adopting animals to implement them.
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