Lawmakers consider public registry of convicted animal abusers

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TRENTON -

New Jersey lawmakers are considering a bill that would create a public registry of convicted animal abusers.

Officials in some New Jersey animal shelters say that they cannot afford to do criminal background checks on everyone who comes in to adopt a pet. They say that a public registry like this would be beneficial.

“I do think there's always this feeling of really needing to do our due diligence to make sure that [the pets are] safe,” says Save in Skillman animal shelter executive director Heather Achenbach. “There have been a couple times where there have been issues where pets have been brought back to us because they have been mistreated.”

RELATED: NJ assemblyman proposes state registry for animal abusers

The bill calls for anyone convicted of a criminal animal cruelty violation to be put on a public list. The list would be found on the Department of Health’s website. The bill would also officially bar offenders from “owning, keeping or harboring” animals.

“We do know animal abuse is an indicator of potential abuse to people, so I think this bill could be so good, both for our pets…as well as people,” Achenbach says.

The Senate Economic Growth Committee also is considering a bill that would make it illegal to declaw cats. If the bill passes, it would make the practice a criminal act of animal cruelty.

Many veterinarians have already abandoned the surgery

“It’s an unnecessary amputation. There’s nothing wrong with the cat’s paws, so the amputation is entirely unnecessary,” says veterinary technician Kate Synderman. “There are other ways of preventing the behaviors that are the reason for declawing.”

Both bills will be getting second readings in the committee.

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