The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), who have previously been known to speak out against ag-gag legislation, are now planning to set up a nationwide database of animal abusers. This database (also known as the ‘Do Not Adopt’ registry) will help animal shelters identify convicted abusers and prevent them from adopting any of their animals.

Chris Green, ALDF director of legislative affairs, explained to the San Francisco Chronicle that the register is necessary because “there is no existing mechanism to prevent someone convicted of animal abuse from walking into a shelter or going on Craigslist and getting a new animal.”

Addressing concerns about privacy, he added that in order to see if someone is registered as an animal abuser, you would need both their full name and date of birth – information that all potential adopters must provide to animal shelters.

“The purpose is to prevent abusers from acquiring more animals. That’s the fundamental goal, rather than creating a gallery of people. We’re putting the focus back on animal welfare,” said Green.

The ALDF’s efforts have been welcomed by San Francisco’s Animal Care and Control unit, whose director, Rebecca Katz, said, “We are the agency that does investigations of animal cruelty, but even we don’t have all the information. If it was a statewide thing, nonprofits and public shelters have access to it and that would be helpful.”

This is not the first time that efforts have been made to create such a register. In April, two animal abuse registry bills called “Logan’s Law” were introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives that grew out of efforts by a man named Matt Falkwhose beloved husky Logan was subjected to an acid attack in March 2011.

And in June, the New York Senate passed a bill requiring convicted animal abusers to be registered, undergo psychiatric evaluation, and be forbidden from ever owning a pet again.

It’s not all good news, however. Another animal abuse registry bill, sponsored by Representative Elizabeth Dickerson (D-Rockland) was defeated in Maine in June, with Evan Heusinkveld, a director of the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, describing it as “unnecessary and wasteful.”

It just goes to show that when it comes to effectively tackling the horrors of animal abuse, we, as a human society, still have a long way to go, but hopefully the ALDF’s new registry will help us on that journey.

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