Senate Approves Animal Abuse Registry Bill, Legislation Moves To House

May 4, 2018

Deputy Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Kevin Witkos (R-Canton) applauded the Connecticut State Senate for passing a bill that would establish a statewide animal abuse registry. Senate Bill 523 An Act Concerning An Animal Abuse Registry passed the Senate early this morning.

“I want to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their bipartisan support of this important measure aimed at protecting animals and preventing crime and violence,”  said Sen. Witkos, a cosponsor of the bill. “A statewide animal abuse registry will help police, pet shelters, animal adoption centers, groomers and other employers better monitor and prevent animal abusers from gaining access to animals through adoption or through jobs involving the care of animals. An animal abuse registry can also help us better understand the warning signs of violence. Animal abuse has been tied to criminal violence against people. Tracking animal abusers can help us prevent crime and intervene before criminal behavior escalates.”

While certain county governments have implemented animal abuse registries across the country, currently only one state, Tennessee, has a statewide registry to keep track of those who abuse animals.

Senate Bill 523 will implement a similar system to the Tennessee Animal Abuser Registration Act, which required the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) to post to an online registry a list of persons convicted of the following criminal offenses against animals: (1) aggravated animal cruelty; (2) felony animal fighting; (3) bestiality and related offenses.

The Tennessee registry, which was made public in 2016, includes animal abusers’ full legal names, photographs, and other identifying data the TBI determines is necessary to identify abusers and to exclude innocent persons. The list does not include abusers’ social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, or any other state or federal identification number. In Tennessee, court clerks provide the TBI with a convicted person’s information within 60 calendar days of a judgement regarding a qualifying animal abuse offense. Upon a first conviction of an animal abuse offense, a person will remain on the list for two years only, unless that person commits another animal abuse offense during that time. If a person is convicted of a second animal abuse offense that person will remain on the list for five years. If a sole offense is expunged a person would also be removed from the list.

The Connecticut proposal would adopt the same structure as the Tennessee registry, with the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection managing the program in Connecticut in the same capacity as Tennessee’s TBI.

The bill now moves to the House of Representatives where it must be voted on before May 9th, the close of the 2018 legislative session.