Taken from the Waterbury-Republican-American, Thursday December 3, 2015, By Taylor Rapalyea Republican-American
Task force to propose bill to track offenders
HARTFORD- A task force for the humane treatment of animals will propose legislation next month to create an animal abuse offender registry -akin to the current sex offender registry-to keep track of convicted offenders and create an additional deterrent for abuse.
The Connecticut Task Force for the Humane Treatment of Animals in Municipal and Regional Shelters met Wednesday to present recommendations to the legislature. Those included adding language to existing spay and neuter, breeding and euthanasia laws. The final and most discussed initiative-presented by State Animal Control Officer Raymond Connors and Cynthia Theran, assistant director of programs and services with the state Judicial Branch-was the proposal for an animal abuse offender registry.
“I can’t stress enough how important this is”, Connors said. “If anything positive comes out of this task force, this is it.”
The Office of Legislative Research found that between 2005 and October 2015, a total of 3,513 offenses were considered under the animal cruelty statute. In those cases, 18 percent were found guilty, 47 percent were not prosecuted, 33 percent were dismissed and 2 percent were found not guilty.
It’s not your typical Bell curve,”Theran said.
Republican Diana S. Urban, D-Stonington, spoke in support of the task force during the public comment period of the meeting. “Why can’t we get the courts to really take this seriously?” she asked. “It’s just an animal.” How many times have I heard that?”
Urban and some members of the task force noted the correlation between animal abuse domestic violence and even mass shootings. The Humane Society found that of seven school shootings between 1997 and 2001, all involved boys had records of animal cruelty.
“There is a direct link between animal abuse, child abuse, substance abuse and domestic abuse. It’s incontrovertible. We have evidence on this, “said Michael Freda, first selectman of North Haven and co-chair of the task force.
Connors said they hadn’t yet spoken with the State Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, but said it would make sense for the animal abuse offender registry to go through that department because it already updates the sex offender registry,
The proposed registry would include anyone over the age of 18, or tried as an adult, convicted of animal abuse in a Connecticut court.
“These are horrendous violent crimes that are being forced on these animals,” Connors said.
THERAN SAID ONE PURPOSE OF A REGISTRY
would be so anyone adopting out an animal could verify that the potential adopter was not a convicted animal abuser. The registry would include a photo of the perpetrator, but not a Social Security number. According to the bill draft, an offender would have to pay a registration fee to the court clerk’s office. The clerk would forward a copy of the judgment to the department in charge of the registry. Theran said the bill draft was near completion, but it needed some cleaning up.
The task force was established with legislation passed in October 2014. Its next meeting is scheduled for January 6 at the Capitol Building. Contact Taylor Rapalyea at email@example.com
CONNECTICUT’S ANIMAL CRUELTY LAW AS FOLLOWS
Status statute prohibits people from overdriving, overloading, overworking, torturing, depriving of substance, mutilating, cruelly beating or killing, or unjustifiably injuring any animal. It also bans unjustifiably administering or exposing a domestic animal to any poisonous or noxious drug or substance with the intention of the animal taking it. Animal owners may not treat their animal cruelly, fail to provide it with proper food, drink or shelter.; abandon it, or carry it in a cruel manner. Prompting an animal to fight also is illegal..
Violation of any of the provisions is punishable by a fine of up to $1000, prison for up to one year, or both. Each subsequent offense is a class D felony, punishable by a fine of up to $5,000, prison for up to five years, or both.