House Bill 871 died in justice appropriations subcommittee, but many still want a data base to identify abusers.
Halifax Humane Society Executive Director Miguel Abi-hassan said he would support a national registry that allowed a nation-wide collaboration of humane societies, animal control agencies and animal rescues.
“I would like to express the need for something like this,” Abi-hassan said. “Animal shelters around the county don’t share information and don’t have the same software provider. Basically it’s something I feel we should have been doing all along.”
Amy Carotenuto, executive director at Flagler Humane Society agrees that a registry would be helpful, but didn’t feel the bill that failed was comprehensive enough.
“If it is rewritten there is potential,” Carotenuto said. “But it has to answer the question; “Who is going to enforce this? Animal Shelters would be the ones punished and fined if an employee didn’t check the registry.”
Carotenuto said felony convictions are not common, citing cases like the Brinkley puppy mill case in 1998 that attracted national attention and was pled down to a misdemeanor. The puppy mill and dog breeders were closed down after a raid on the property that resulted in 500 dogs being brought to the Flagler Humane Society. The society was able to find homes for 474 of the animals.
“The vast number of cases are misdemeanors or pled down to misdemeanors,” Carotenuto said. “There was a case of a dog that died of neglect in a crate in a Palm Coast home, which is what we see mostly, and those are misdemeanors.”
Carotenuto said she would like the wording to cover all animals, including horses.
Both humane societies use public record and shelter files to prevent someone with an abusive background from adopting one of their animals.
Abi-Hassan said the community is entitled to know even as they would in a child abuse case. He referred to animals as mute victims who cannot facet their accuser or speak for themselves.
“I think at the state level this is long overdue,” Abi-hassan said.