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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Registry for animal abusers advanced in Hillsborough County



TAMPA -- Convicted animal abusers would have to register in Hillsborough County under a proposal commissioners advanced Wednesday.

If approved, the ordinance would prevent those convicted of a misdemeanor or felony animal abuse from adopting a pet.

Commissioner Kevin Beckner, who put the issue before commissioners, said it would also help law enforcement officials keep tabs on animal abusers. Beckner said there is a strong link between animal abuse and violent behavior against humans.

A presentation listed several serial killers, such as Jeffrey Dahmer, who abused and tortured pets.

In a 5-1 vote, commissioners instructed the county attorney’s office to draft the ordinance and the parameters for how a registry would work.

Despite the strong vote of support, commissioners expressed concern with creating and operating a registry. What if someone goes to Pinellas County to adopt a pet? How can the county keep tabs on people convicted of animal abuse in other jurisdictions who move to Hillsborough?

Commissioner Stacy White, the lone no vote, said it was “bad public policy” and would be better addressed by the state Legislature.

“I think it’s sloppy at best to try to piecemeal this together county by county,” said White, who made a point to note he has three dogs and loves pets.

Beckner shot back that the state has repeatedly killed a statewide registry and that’s why local governments must take this on.

“We have a duty and an obligation to act when the legislature fails to act,” Beckner said.

Beckner did allow an amendment to draft a letter asking Tallahassee to pass similar measures statewide.

[Last modified: Wednesday, February 3, 2016 11:31am]


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