UPDATE: The Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners voted 6-1 on Thursday morning in favor of creating an animal abusers registry. Commissioner Stacy White was the lone dissenting vote. The registry would help animal adoption groups identify people who have a record of animal abuse, so they can prevent the rescued animals from getting into the hands of people with malicious criminal records.
The registry is scheduled to begin in November 2016, per an ordinance amendment. Commissioner Kevin Beckner put the ordinance forward to the commissioners.
In hopes of preventing animal abusers from getting their hands on more animals, the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners is being urged by the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, and other animal adoption organizations, to create an Animal Abuse Registry.
The Registry would help these animal adoption groups identify people who have a record of animal abuse, so they can prevent the rescued animals from getting into the hands of people with malicious criminal records.
The discussion and potential vote on a county registry is scheduled to be taken up by the Commissioners on Thursday morning on the second floor of the County Center on Kennedy Blvd. in downtown Tampa.
The county has determined there would be no “additional financial impact to the county” for enacted ordinance, but hasn’t yet determined how much implementing and enforcing the registry would cost the county.
Right now there is no national registry, and the FBI only this year began collecting detailed data from local enforcement agencies on acts of animal cruelty, which includes gross negligence, torture, organized abuse, and sexual abuse.
Part of the reason to collect the data, according to the FBI, is that “some studies say cruelty to animals is a precursor to larger crime,” according to Nelson Ferry of the FBI’s Criminal Statistics Management Unit.
Animal abuse has long been associated with other types of crime, such as domestic violence and child abuse.
“If somebody is harming an animal, there is a good chance they also are hurting a human,” says John Thompson, deputy executive director of the National Sheriffs’ Association, on the FBI's website. “If we see patterns of animal abuse, the odds are that something else is going on.”
The FBI says they’re only getting animal abuse information from just around 30% of law enforcement agencies across the country, so the creation of a Hillsborough animal abuse registry would also help the federal government better understand animal abuse trends so they can better protect both people and animals.
Also on Thursday morning, the Commissioners will consider giving the Humane Society of Tampa Bay a stipend for helping to take in stray animals.
Last year the HSTB took in 1,883 strays at a cost of more than $300,000 to the shelter. Between January 1 and June 30 of 2016, they have taken in 1,057 and are on target to reach over 2,000 by the end of the year.
Helping the county shelter free up their kennels saves tax payers more than $300,000, so the county is considering giving the HSTB a stipend, possibly around $100,000, to help offset the HSTB’s cost.