Animal abuse registry

I’ve recently received dozens of emails along the following lines:

Thank you for considering the implementation of an animal abuse registry. If put into action, this registry has tremendous potential to curb the problem of animal abuse.

Because pet shop owners and breeders would have access to the list, there would be substantially fewer animals sold to people with a history of neglecting or actively hurting their animals.

I believe that it is entirely appropriate to require that merchants who sell live animals check the registry before every sale, and to hold them accountable for selling to known animal abusers.

Please move H. 1385 into law as quickly as possible.

I passionately support the goals of House 1385: We do want to keep defenseless animals away from animal abusers. And, in a world, where strangers can meet for transactions over the internet, the risk of harm to animals (and children) is increased. I commend the advocates for this bill for bringing it forward.

But I’ve let advocates know that I personally think the concept needs more work before it should be considered by the legislature.

As a piece of legislation, it is incomplete in the sense that it does not really address many of the details that would need to be addressed in creation of an animal abuser registry. There would need to be some kind of differentiation between levels of abuse. In the same way that we differentiate among levels of sex offenders, we would need to recognize the difference for example, between a person who becomes mentally disabled and fails to care for his farm animals and a sociopath who cruelly tortures pets. In my experience, mental illness underlies many of the saddest cases of animal neglect. The legislation provides no conceptual framework for classifying abusers, no procedure for doing so and no avenue for litigating unfair classifications. Our Sex Offender Registry Board is a complex legal and conceptual edifice and the legislation does not lay the foundation for a similar agency or process.

Additionally, we lack the evidentiary base for assessing whether a registry would actually prevent abuse. We don’t have data about how many serial abusers of animals there are or how they acquire animals. We do have a few newspaper stories from other states about people acquiring animals for the purpose of abuse on Craig’s list, but it’s a long way from a couple of newspaper stories to the construction of an effective new bureaucratic protective mechanism. By contrast there is a deep literature about the recidivism of sex offenders. Before we create a new registry construct, we need to believe that it is reasonably calculated to accomplish its goal.

Finally, I think we need to ask carefully how this fits into the whole issue of making sure that people can get a second chance in life. There are powerful arguments for letting people put their past behind them. We don’t want people crippled by their mistakes. We want them to have a shot at becoming legitimate and productive members of society. That, in itself, is an important way to prevent abuse — to the extent we push people to the margins, we increase the chances that they will do more bad things in frustration. Some of the advocates have urged that anyone should be able to check the registry and that anyone who transfers an animal without checking the registry should be punished. I’m not sure it is realistic to expect that people would be informed enough to know of their obligation to check the registry and at the same time I fear that it could be harmful for access to the registry to be universal.

I look forward to working with advocates for this legislation to develop it and to further assess its potential to prevent abuse.

Responding to comments below:

I’ve read through the comments here and of course I am wounded by those that seem to suggest I don’t care enough about animals.

I stand by my views though. I don’t think this legislation is adequately developed. The advocates for this concept need to do more much work to bring forward a serious and workable legislative proposal.

One thing that people may not realize is that we do have a registry for all crimes already. It’s called the Criminal History Systems Board. We do not have special purpose registries for people who abuse women, the elderly, the mentally ill or children. We do have a sex offender registry, but that speaks to a special kind of abuse — all other kinds of abuse and neglect are disclosed through the CHSB. I really doubt that we should create special purpose registries for every class of victim. As many advocates below have emphasized, people who abuse animals abuse people and vice versa — cruel people are cruel in more than one way.

The right question is whether we should streamline access to the information in the Criminal History Systems Board in cases where we are rehoming animals. I think we need to think very carefully about whether that could work practically. It would mean that everyone who wants to bring home a pet would have to provide their full identity information to the person giving away the pet. In an era where identity theft is rampant, that does raise practical concerns that need to be carefully addressed.

One other question that needs to be addressed is whether it provides meaningful protection just to check the background of the person coming forward for the pet. One would really like to know who else is in the same home.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

77 replies on “Animal abuse registry”

  1. Absolutely! We need to prevent anyone with evil intentions from purchasing (or obtaining free) any animals.

  2. Thank you for your reasoned response. I feel fortunate to have you represent me.

    The people behind the registry are well meaning, but I think it’s more important to rid Massachusetts of CAFOS and IFAP facilities.

    As you well know, the major cause of climate change is not fossil fuels but rather factory farming

  3. I agree with the overall goals of the proposed legislation. Most of us consider animals to be members of our family, yet the consequences for neglecting, harming, or killing these animals are relatively minor. Jail time is rare. I recognize that the topic is complicated and figuring out a way to pass such legislation and then implement it would be a challenge. I hope you will work on and/or support legislation that helps protect animals. Penalties need to be increased. Even if we disregard our duty to protect these animals, it is important to keep in mind that those who neglect or abuse animals very often become the people that want to hurt humans.

  4. the first state to create a registry for animal abuse. I was hoping MA would soon follow. The FBI is now tracking animal cruelty cases which will create the data that you are looking for. I feel a sense of urgency since I know how long a bill can linger at the state house and how easily obtained a pet can be. The vulnerable,including animals can be a easy target for abuse. The sooner the protection, the better for society at large.

  5. I agree with the layers of legal work necessary to make this work. Your work bringing the registry to reality is very much appreciated in Massachusetts.

    Thank you,
    Marcia Weisman

  6. I believe that a registry for offenders of animal abuse would be beneficial in protecting our animals would be vert useful in preventingand protecting our animals.

  7. Hi Will,
    Thank you for the opportunity to express my opinion regarding an animal registry. Frankly, I am surprised it was not suggested a long time ago. As an educator who worked many years ago in an institution in NY that was full of abused children, my own experience has been that the abusers are repeat offenders. I think the same is often true of animals. That being said I know there is a wonderful prison program whereby prisoners train animals and are very good with them, but these prisoners are often in for crimes other than animal abuse. I would hope that those who are suggesting registry are talking about the very serious animal abusers. Many hide behind mental illness when they are convicted. Whatever their issue, if you seriously abuse a child or an animal, my own experience is that it often repeats itself even after significant amounts of therapy. There surely needs to be parameters. As a start, the registry could be for the very serious abusers who challenge the very life of the animal. A list would hopefully prevent not only pet shops from selling them, but also organizations like the MSPCA etc. that are starving for homes for animals. As importantly are those who apply for jobs as caretakers for animals at farms, homes, and various other places. If the animal registry requires that shops and employers refer to the registry, hopefully most will. The love one feels for a pet is not unlike that for a child and to allow someone to abuse a helpless child or animal without a documented registry to me is a failure on our part to keep them out of harms way.
    Thank you, Will, for considering such an important step in keeping animals safe.

  8. Not only have a Registry to make the abuser’s names public, but have the Court system actually do something in a positive way. By not just a slap on the wrist ( even for a first timer ), but actually a heavy fine and jail time. Make it hurt the abuser as he/she has hurt or killed the animal. This should have been done a long time ago.

  9. I strongly disagree with your reasoning. Animals need protection now, not at some distant time in the future. In the unspecified amount of time it takes to make an abuse registry perfect (which it never will be), more animals will be subjected to abuse, torture and death. That, in my mind, is not acceptable. Pass the bill now a tweak it later if needed but put something in place NOW. Also, as to degrees of abusers???? An abuser is an abuser, plain and simple. There truly are some things in life you shouldn’t get a second chance at and this is one of them.

  10. Why have a sex offender list if you can’t have an animal offender list,after all the animals can’t speak for themselves.

  11. Some of the most horrific animal abuse is a result of pet owners posting their animals on social media. Because they have no way to screen the “adopter,” they unwittingly hand companion animals over to sociopaths, including dog fighters who use small, old or weak dogs, cats, rabbits and other animals as bait. Anecdotally, we know that the recidivism rate for animal abuse is high, nearly 100% according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Preventing these people from obtaining animals doesn’t make them more likely to re-offend; their mental illness, including sociopathy, does. Would we want them caring for our children and frail elders?

  12. People who hurt animals often hurt people too. Support this registry. Our pets, all animals deserve our respect.

    1. To protect animals, the law must require everyone to check the registry–including pet owners, who post animals on social media & blindly hand them to the abusers trolling these sites for free or cheap victims. Abusers & dogfighters don’t buy animals from breeders & pet stores.

  13. I urge you to pass this bill. This bill, as I understand it seems pretty straight forward: it would establish an animal abuse registry for individuals convicted of an animal abuse crime and would be accessible only to animal shelters, pet stores and breeders to ensure that listed offenders don’t have access to animals. Shelters, pet stores and breeders would be required to use the registry or face penalties. As such, I see this would be a huge step in the right direction. I don’t agree with your rationale for a need to differentiate on levels of abuse, second chance concerns, etc… These animals have no voice, we need to protect them. We are talking about a registry based on convictions of abuse.

    1. Even more than breeders & pet stores, pet owners need to be required to check the registry. Animal abusers & dogfighters troll Craigslist & Facebook looking for animals people post on the cheap or “free to a good home.” A proposal to amend H1385, by Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets, would protect these animals. If the bill passes without that amendment, it will not prevent the majority of animal abuse cases.

  14. YES, Senator, this is the right thing to do. Make sure this bill becomes a law. Protecting innocent animals is a noble cause and many Americans stand with you.

    1. H1385 needs to be strengthened before it should become law! If the law doesn’t require EVERYONE to check the registry before rehoming or selling pets–not just shelters, breeders & petshops–helpless animals will continue to be given blindly to the sociopaths who troll Craigslist for free or cheap dogs, cats, birds, bunnies, rodents & other critters to torture or use as bait for dogfighting.

  15. Dear Will,

    While I appreciate your interest in having a more fully defined bill to help protect both the animals and their offenders, I agree with many of my fellow citizens who feel that delaying the bill for the want of better definition and clarity is a disservice to the thousands of animals that so desperately need action NOW.

    Even if the bill needs amendment in the coming years, as so many laws currently do, I firmly believe the better option is to take the long-overdue initiative to get some form of protective legislation in place.

    The fact that TN has a law in place while MA still does not is rather shameful. We are a state of highly educated, progressive people who often proudly serve as the example for the rest of the nation. Please help us maintain that level of service to our country by including this bill now before more innocent animals are violently abused, neglected or killed.

    Thank you,
    Deirdre Pocase

  16. Hi, Will –

    i agree with those who say that there are myriad ways in which H. 1385 falls short of what we would all like to see. But for God’s sake, let us get this bill, imperfect as it may be, to the Legislature as soon as possible. There is time ahead in which to discuss it, tweak it, whatever is necessary to make it stronger and better and more inclusive – but for many animals, time is running out. They can’t wait.

    Thank you for all you have done for us over the years!

    1. Unfortunately, the reality of the legislative process is that bad laws do NOT become good ones. H1385 has a grossly inaccurate definition of “animal shelter” that creates a loophole for disreputable “rescue” groups like some run by breeders, hoarders & others. It also doesn’t protect the animals most at risk for torture–those posted on Craigslist & other social media by naive pet owners. So, no, let’s pass a solid law, NOT a flawed (albeit very well intended) bill that unintentionally leaves the majority of animals unprotected. Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets is working toward strengthening H1385. We hope the legislature will embrace it. It’s time.

  17. Convicted animal abusers will get a second chance; they’re only on the registry for a certain period of time. Further, Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets proposes that an appeal process be available, enabling the offender to be removed sooner on recommendation of a licensed mental health clinician that he or she is rehabilitated. The news media, which identify alleged offenders of all types even before they’re convicted, destroy these individuals’ reputations. An animal abuser registry doesn’t. It is a necessary tool to keep helpless animals out of the hands of people convicted of abusing or killing them.

  18. With the utmost respect for your desire to protect both animals and people alike, it appears that while animals and people wait for the perfecting of a legislative guideline on the necessary separation of people from obvious acts of inhumanity toward animals – or people for that matter – pets and people are suffering.

    Our forefathers conceived in the framework of the existing Massachusetts animal laws within a definitive context activities that constitute abusive behaviour toward animals, or an animal. At present undisclosed cases of injury due to intentional abuse are allowed to continue and will not subside until the passing of H1385 with the requirement that every person, caring and considerate as a norm – would perform to check on the receiver of an animal before transfering or selling an animal to a new home or shelter. It is a tool needed by Districts Attorneys to protect those who are most vulnerable.

    Providng a mandate that calls for the registration of a known abuser of an animal and a well publicized location in which the registry may be accessed by the public would help to stem the void allowing abusers of animals to perform their dark deeds and thereby stem the agony of both animals and the people who have concerns for them. The MSPCA is endowed and empowered as a lawful vehicleto to carry out the public broadcasting and informing of the public. The public is gratified to protect companion animals from harm.

    In response to questioning whether the animal abuser registry will accomplish its goal, you can be assured that when an advocate for an animal sheds light on an assailant who abuses an animal in a comunity, the assailant is separated from the distressed animal, and is put on watch for others that he or she might harm, including themself. The registry provides a mechanism to prevent future distress for any vulnerable entity – whether animal, child, elder or the person who needs help themself.

    With regard to questioning whether the assailant has opportunity for recovery – a chance for removal from the registry, the Bill provides opportunity for removal once treatment and recovery is substantiated.

    While a change in abusive habits may produce some frustration, as posed in commentary, no person experiencing frustration normally harms another being. If they do attempt to do so, then the registry is all the more important so they are kept from unbridled attempts at hurting another animal or person as keen as the enforcement and pschological establishments will allow.

    Thank you for desiring to be helpful to the voiceless citizens of the Commonwealth. I look forward to your continued protective efforts and hope they are as fruitful as possible

  19. Yes, do please help this bill pass as soon as possible. I can’t think of one single reason to oppose it — privacy? Animal abusers gave up their right to privacy the minute they hurt an animal. There is a body of research indicating that people who start with cruelty to animals almost always move on to abusing and killing human beings. It should be easily accessible to breeders, though these abusers rarely spend money on a dog. Still, a registry helps People perceive animal abuse as the serious crime it is
    Keep up the good work!

  20. Senator – I support the creation of an animal abuse registry in MA. It is important to consider the legislation in terms of its purpose, which is to prevent future abuse from happening by restricting documented abusers from acquiring animals. Consequently, I do not see the need for preferential treatment for a subset of abusers, since this would undermine the purpose of the registry (leaving convicted individuals out of registry will allow them to continue purchasing animals). Furthermore, while I agree with your point about rehabilitation, animal abusers are quite different from individuals who commit non-violent crimes, who unfortunately are treated much more harsh by our legal system. Animal abuse has a widely documented link with violence against humans, and should be treated with the gravity it deserves. After all, we are not making the same argument for the redemption of sex offenders. As to making it a requirement for the facilities that sell animals to check the registry before every sale, without it the law would simply not reach the desired effect, as unfortunately many of these places put profit before their moral obligation to the animals from which they make money. Finally, I would like to see the law address sales from individuals, such as via Craigslist. As long as these sales remain outside of the scope of the enforcement of the registry, animal abusers will have an avenue to acquire, harm and kill animals.

  21. H1385 provides a much better foundation for an animal abuser registry law than another bill currently on Beacon Hill. However, H1385 is flawed in a way that will leave many animals unprotected. Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets has proposed redrafting H1385 to close an unintended loophole and make this a strong law that, among other things, will greatly reduce the number of animals unwittingly given to abusers on social media like Craigslist. As Vice President of The Buddy Dog Humane Society, I know shelters like ours screen adopters. However, it is essential that every person who rehomes or sells animals, including their own pets, MUST be required to do the same in order to protect these innocent animals who rely on us to protect them. An animal abuser registry gives pet owners who rehome or sell their animals privately a resource for that. Crafting and passing a really good law requires a lot of time and work. Let’s not squander either on a weak one.

  22. Dear Will,

    Thank you again for letting your constituents express an opinion on this and other issues. Whether or not the law is written to require every seller of animals to consult the registry, I think that with adequate publicity of its availability, nearly everyone would. As a person involved in the rescue of small animals, I have been in contact with many people who advertise animals on Craigslist and who are worried about what might happen to their pets, but they do not have a clear idea on how to ensure that their pets do not fall into evil hands. This registry would be a gift to every pet owner in the Commonwealth. No law is perfect. Let’s put some strong enforcement in place now to protect these innocent creatures. It hurts us all as a society when the helpless and voiceless are abused.

  23. Senator,
    H1385 is a significant bill that must become reality sooner than later. Furthermore, the bill MUST require that EVERYONE consult it before rehoming, selling or giving that animal to another person(s). The incidence of animal cruelty from animals being given away on places like Craigslist, Offerup and similar sites is horrifically high. As a former adoption counselor, I frequently had to do detective work on my on to research potential adopters to make sure they were suitable guardians for our dogs and cats. This type of registry would not only be an invaluable tool for adoption counselors but private individuals who want to do the right thing and rehome their animals into safe and loving homes.

    1. H1385 is on the right path, but it has some serious deficits–including an unintended loophole in its grossly inaccurate definition of “animal shelter.” Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets has proposed a redraft that will give animals the protection they need and deserve.

  24. With all due respect Senetory (and you deserve so much) I ask you: When child molesters, pedifiles, and child abusers given a second chance, has it worked out a majority of the time ? We’ve seem the result of what happened when a certain religion hid, for centuries, what was going on and brushed under the rug – it got worse. People who abuuse do not change, they get worse. If they get away with it once they will do it again. If they get caught once, they will figure out ways not to get caught again. This is a fact. And animal abusers, because animals are considered “property” will abuse, maime, torture again and again in private (and video it and show it on Facebook) or they will toss their beloved animals into a lake with a rock in a bag because they are tired of the old thing. Abusers *do* deserve to be crippled by their past mistakes so that they are prevented from doing it again. And Again. Another fact – abusers often “graduate” onto bigger game – animals are practice to them, when the thrill is gone, they move on to children or elders or females or entire families. Animals are practice. The Animal Abuse Registry is long long long overdue. this is not the time to back down. I am in the rescue world and have been in some capacity or other for 40 years. I have many friends who are deeply involved and committed to the cause. Abusers are sick, they not change,they do not get better they do get worse. You absolutely must talk to Law Enforcement at the ARL or other shelters, the Veterinarians around town, go into the 10000’s of rescue groups you’ll find in Facebook- this is an international cause- you will learn more than you ever wanted to know and you will never be the same.

    1. I really feel it is morally essential in every crime context to recognize the variety of offense — some things really are much less serious than others and some people who are convicted of crimes really are much less dangerous than others.

      1. The existing animal cruelty statute includes offenses that range from deprivation of sustenance to torture. We seek your guidance in identifying the crimes in this statute that are not serious enough for the offender to not be placed on the registry. Again, the point of the registry is to keep animals away from people who will mistreat them.

  25. Senator Brownsberger,

    Please do not promoting another gutless law for non-human animals who are the most vulnerable sentient beings in society. For all too long legislation concerning non-human animals been without proper penalties, especially where animals are considered money makers, i.e., pet stores, farms, entertainment, etc.

    You make the point “There would need to be some kind of differentiation between levels of abuse.” We are talking about abuse to a voiceless being. Is a little abuse permissible? What defines a little abuse vs. mega abuse? You mention mental illness as a defense for animal abuse. A person has to be mentally ill to abuse a human or non-human animal. Using that argument, we should not prosecute murders, child abusers, sex offenders, etc., but treat them as mentally ill. Let the courts assess the mental competence of the perpetrator of the animal abuse case.

    You mention, “Our Sex Offender Registry Board is a complex legal and conceptual edifice and the legislation does not lay the foundation for a similar agency or process.” Why does the animal abuse registry have to mirror the Sex Offender Registry? Or, is this statement just an attempt to further dilute the concept of creating an animal registry? What are the similarities between the issues?

    You write “We don’t have data about how many serial abusers of animals there are or how they acquire animals.” What is the magic number that will convince you and others that a registry is needed? Have you first hand seen the results of animal abuse? I suggest you do a face to face with a victim and tell him or her that you need more data before taking steps for a registry. Or, perhaps you can tell him or her that they need to forgive and forget because it was done out of mental illness. Also mention that you don’t want to offend anyone because they need a second chance in life.

    Anyone who sells, adopts out, breeds, advertises for sale or adoption, should have access to an Animal Abuser Registry and be required to consult the registry before they hand over an animal to an individuals. It is time to have laws that contain protection for these voiceless beings.

  26. I strongly support an animal abuse registry. I do not agree with the Senator’s reasoning to delay such an effort. A defenseless animal is unable to distinguish between a mentally challenged person or a sociopath who could/does harm to them in the same manner. Abuse is abuse. It is our obligation to protect animals (just like children) because they are a voiceless population. Better to protect first then refine the program/law later. Many of the Senator’s other arguments seem to be protective of abusers, and not the animals. He speaks of ‘second chances’. I disagree. It should be herculean for animal abuser to prove to the community that they deserve a second chance. While the senator stalls on this issue, animals are being hurt. I am on the side of protecting the animals first and worrying about abuser’s rights later. Thank you for reading. Framingham, MA

  27. NOW is the time for an effective animal abuse registry. Animals who were injured or killed by convicted abusers get no second chance. A registry with teeth would help protect animals — as long as *everyone* who sells animals is required to check the registry and risks penalties for failing to do so.

  28. I respect your opinion, Senator, but I honestly don’t understand it. I hire pet sitters to care for my dogs when I travel. I also like to hire dog walkers to come to my home and walk my dogs when I go out for the day. I wish I had a way to make sure they aren’t people convicted of abusing animals! This is a real concern for me. A registry also will keep other animals out of harm’s way, specifically the danger of being given or sold to people who hurt them deliberately or through extreme negligence. Don’t animals deserve to be protected in this way?

  29. Sen. Brownsberger is on the right path but has some concerns about an animal abuse registry, including that they would stigmatize convicted offenders–and whose identities are exposed by the news media even before conviction.

    He also wonders whether an animal abuser registry would be a useful tool for keeping animals out of their hands.

    Who cares if convicted abusers are stigmatized and made known to the public? That’s the point. We need a reliable database for the public to check so we know who we can hand over an animal to. I say give this piece of legislation as much teeth as you can to insure the safety of all animals.

  30. Here’s the rub: there is an established correlation between people who abuse animals and those who abuse people. There is solid evidence showing those who abuse animals will or do abuse humans. We need to prevent such people from having any access to vulnerable living animals or people, and the first step is to document where animals go, to check against a registry of abusers, and to make that check necessary. Support HR 1385.

    Regarding privacy and second chances? I wrote a sex-registration law for a wealthy tribe in the Northeast with far-reaching influence in New England and the Tri-State area. I researched its constitutionality and its desired impact. If anything, the constituents I spoke to wanted the law stronger than our Constitution allowed. They are right–their fears are well-grounded. Puppy Doe died a horrible death. It would be AWFUL if another story like that happened again. They aren’t just stories. They are indicators of a prevailing evil that occurs too frequently. But HR 1385 can help to stop it.

    I’m a strong believer in second chances. The animals needing new homes are also asking for second chances, and I’ll bet most of them have no record of abuse or torture. Let’s give them that chance by making this law valid. Thank you.

  31. H1385 needs to be altered to include a provision that requires that everyone who sells an animal to check with the registry. This bill needs to close the loopholes and gain more strength. The animals are counting on us. I agree with Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets in that this bill needs strong teeth before it is passed.


  32. I too passionately support the goals of H1423, but I fail to understand Sen. Brownsburger’s concern with classifying abusers. We already have the Mass. Animal Cruelty Stature, MGL Ch. 272, Sec. 77, which lays out a quite comprehensive list of ways in which cruelty to animals is perpetrated and can be punished. Why do we need further research? Please check out the Animal Legal Defense Fund (, which has done lots of research on this issue.

    I would agree mental illness is doubtless involved. Is not a sexual psycho/sociopath mentally ill? The point is to protect potential victims from individuals who would seriously harm them for whatever reasons. That is why Craig’s List advertisers should have to check a animal abuse registry along with other sellers of animals. We all remember how Craig’s list has been used in the past by sex offenders to lure victims. This is where animal abusers will also look for victims. Craig’s list could be required to alert those who offer animals for sale or free to check this registry. Even if we can save only one animal from atrocities, that alone is worth asking that Craig’s list advertisers consult an animal abusers’ registry. The bill could also be amended so that if an identified abuser had a clean slate for, say, ten years, the person could be removed from the list, to respond to the “second chance” argument. The time is NOW to tighten H135 provisions and pass effective legislation that will protect helpless animals from wanton cruelty.

  33. I too passionately support the goals of H1423, but I fail to understand Sen. Brownsburger’s concern with classifying abusers. We already have the Mass. Animal Cruelty Stature, MGL Ch. 272, Sec. 77, which lays out a quite comprehensive list of ways in which cruelty to animals is perpetrated and can be punished. Why do we need further research? Please check out the Animal Legal Defense Fund (, which has done lots of research on this issue.

    I would agree mental illness is doubtless involved. Is not a sexual psycho/sociopath mentally ill? The point is to protect potential victims from individuals who would seriously harm them for whatever reasons. That is why Craig’s List advertisers should have to check a animal abuse registry along with other sellers of animals. We all remember how Craig’s list has been used in the past by sex offenders to lure victims. This is where animal abusers will also look for victims. Craig’s list could be required to alert those who offer animals for sale or free to check this registry. Even if we can save only one animal from atrocities, that alone is worth asking that Craig’s list and other list advertisers consult an animal abusers’ registry. The bill could also be amended so that if an identified abuser had a clean slate for, say, ten years, the person could be removed from the list, to respond to the “second chance” argument. The time is NOW to tighten H135 provisions and pass effective legislation that will protect helpless animals from wanton cruelty.

    1. Folks, I do think we need handle different cases differently. Should an elderly woman who neglects her cats because she has Alzheimer’s be treated the same as the psychopath who tortured Puppie Doe? They both could be charged and convicted under the cruelty statute and theoretically exposed to the same penalties.

      1. If a man or a woman with Alzheimer’s who has companion animals (at the risk of offending the male population for excluding them, or the female population for targeting them, please note that Alzheimer’s and/or having companion cats is not exclusively a female trait) cannot care for their companion animals and no family member or social service has intervened, yes, the caregiver should be put on the Registry. The occurrence of this type of neglect/abuse is not the overwhelming source of non-human animal abuse and suffering that is the impetus for the Bill to create a Registry.

        The purpose of the Animal Abuse Registry is to prosecute individuals in a court of law for animal abuse. If it is proven that a man or woman has Alzheimer’s, what is the likelihood that a judge/jury would impose on them the same penalties as an animal abuser in, for instance, the Puppy Doe case? Senator, do you not have faith in the Massachusetts judicial system?

  34. I think we should look at this issue as though we were talking about protecting children. The stakes should be just as high. So yes, there should be a team to monitor this registry. And although some might feel paying salaries to look at lists for animals isn’t on the priority list, just remember that most people committing animal abuse crimes will eventually become domestic abusers. So having a registry for animals also benefits humans. It is the first line of defense. And specially when you are talking about dog fighting, that is a criminal element all of its own. Animals deserve to be protected and it has always been our responsibility to make that happen. The time has come and now we must act for their sake.

    1. I think we should look at this issue as though we were talking about protecting children.

      I agree with this statement, but it’s implications for the argument go in the other direction. We don’t have a registry of everyone accused of child abuse or domestic abuse or elder abuse. We only do that in the case of sexual abuse.

      1. Well we should. Another oversight that could saves lives.

        This doesn’t have to be as complicated as some people insist it be. It’s called a priority. You either want it to happen or you don’t.

        People in this state needs jobs. Hire the people that are needed to help these animal and just get it done.

  35. This is a very important topic and one I hope you will continue to address.
    Perfect can the enemy of good. Perhaps a basic law, not necessarily the “perfect” one could begin to make a difference.

    1. The problem with putting a weaker law into effect without strong provisions, such as requiring everyone to check the registry, is that once the law is put into effect, the odds of it being strengthened are nil. We would be left with a law that does not provide any real protection for animals. No law is better than a weak, ineffectual one. Loopholes and shortcomings need to be addressed from the get-go.

  36. A young, severely emaciated dog was abandoned in the cold in Dedham yesterday. If the person who starved and threw this animall out like trash is found and convicted, how can we prevent him or her from easily obtaining another? While shelters screen adopters, people who rehome their pets privately–increasingly on social media–don’t have the resources. And those who sell animals don’t have the motivation. An animal abuser registry with consequences for not checking it won’t prevent all abuse. No law is infallible. But it will save some lives–including vulnerable humans, who in many cases are animal abusers’ next victims.

    1. I agree. Everyone who rehomes a pet must be required to check the registry. Otherwise, that loophole might as well be a giant exit ramp inviting animal exploiters to use it. The social media that so many now use to transfer pets is a great avenue for publicizing the requirement.

    2. I agree 100%! How many more animals need to suffer before Beacon Hill wakes up? The time for an animal abuser registry with teeth is NOW.

    3. I agree 100%! An animal abuser registry with consequences for not checking is badly needed.

  37. Senator, I hope you will make this as strong a law as possible by requiring everyone to check the registry before rehoming or selling pets. We cannot allow any more animals to suffer the fates of Puppy Doe and others by falling into the hands of psychopaths. All the loopholes must be closed.

  38. Animal abusers should be restricted from owning any further animals and we have to have an abuser registry similar to child predators. Where they have to report it to their neighbors. This has to be made public that way if said abuser foes have a pet neighbors can report it to authorities. If you are rejoining a pet it is your responsibility to do your due diligence, no excuses!
    Sen. Brownsberger I am a registered voter who lives in your district, we need stronger animal abuse laws. There are no second chances for these individuals.

  39. To me it makes perfect sense for everyone re-homing a pet, to check the registry.
    Animals posted on Craigslist are at an extremely increased risk for abuse, so therefor it is paramount for the registry to be checked.

  40. H1385 — needs more added to it.. needs
    more additions — for sure !!

    Make sure EVERYONE has access to the “Registry Check” All private sector as well as shelters, breeders, pet stores.
    (Veterinarians should have access of the
    *Registry Check*, as well)

    The “human predator” abuser of animals — starts with the *private sector*: searching on Craigs List, News Paper Ads, County Fairs, and Private Face Book pages and some Large Flea Markets.

    The Private Sector that wants to give away and rehome there companion animals.

    The Registry Check –needs to be UPDATED IN A SUFFICIENT WAY AT ALL TIMES.. To make sure the Registry Check – is updated and recent at all times. As well as, keeping and having access to the “registry check” year after year.

    Also you may want to join forces in the near future with surrounding New England States such as,CT, RI, NH, NY, ME, VT.. so that these states will someday have a “registry check” on the human predators – Abusers of animals !!

    Thank You
    Joanne G. Mainiero

  41. We need to do everything possible to protect all animals from abuse at the ha nnds of humans. I support legislation that will ensure there,is a,registry of known animal abusers. I want to see stiffer penalties for those doing the abuse

  42. Animal abusers DO NOT deserve a second chance to abuse an animal.I think the penalties for abusing an animal should be much harsher and law enforcement needs the tools to enforce the laws. A registry will help with this.

  43. thank you for your summary of your understanding about the issues involved with this legislation.
    1) I strongly support the requirement that ALL persons or entities transferring ownership of an animal, through sale or otherwise, consult an abuser registry BEFORE the transfer.
    2) We need this requirement now, even if the registry will improve its structure with future implementation.
    3) Legal backbone will help tremendously in alerting users of social media like craigs list of their responsibilities before giving away or selling unwanted animals.
    4) Legal backbone may even help people aware of animal abuse happening around themselves to take more seriously their responsibility to report such abuse.
    5) The first step to take in giving offenders second chances is to stop their misbehavior, period. Only after that step can the public be better educated on the sagacity of giving offenders second chances. Right?
    6) Let me ask you, are animal lives important? Do animals suffer from abuse? Do animals have a right not to suffer from “abuse”? Tell it like it is. There is the strongest argument for this legislation.

  44. Making sure PEOPLE get second chances in life? You mean like Puppy Doe’s abuser? You want to give someone who has sadistically brutilized an animal, a dog, broken every bone in his body, a second chance to do it again? Seriously? I grew up around boys who got a kick out of sdoing terrible things to dogs,torturing and killing cats by setting them on fire. They enjoyed it! Not one of them stopped at one animal because he got in a little bit of trouble for it. If the FBI considers animal abusers dangerous enough to put on their registry of people to keep an eye on, then we should do it at the state level. The whole world was outraged at what happened to Puppy Doe. The whole world should know you care more about giving sociopaths, or otherwise seriously disturbed people, a second chance to torture another dog–but this NEXT time, they’ll be “smarter”. They won’t get caught. People who abuse the helpless, the voiceless, the innocent–whether animals or children–do it because they CAN! They are bullies. Sadists.You think a person who gets caught and prosecuted for abusing an animal, or victimising a child, just did it for the first time? Surely you know better than that, don’t you? And surely you don’t think that spending a couple days in jail or a week in jail is going to suddenly grow a conscience in a person who never had one to begin with, or has a very defective one, do you? Maybe you need a little “teach-in” with the FBI, or experts who have “treated” animal torturers. They’ll tell you that at the very least you don’t give someone the opportunity to do the same, or worse, to another helpless, trusting animal– any more than you would give a paedophile a job as a kindergarten teacher. Does he deserve a second chance to not hurt children? If they take pleasure in the sadistic torture of an animal, they’ll keep doing it– if they can.
    Gutting the Puppy Doe law, and caring more about giving a second chance to monsters who do to animals what that guy did to Puppy Doe, doesn’t say much about you. Would you feel bad for the pedophile? Would you feel bad that some child rapist was stigmatized? Or would you do everything you could to protect more children from being victimized in the same way? Do the same thing for animals. They don’t deserve to be tortured and abused, either!
    Sociopaths,serial killers, practice their depraved “technique” on animals before they graduate to human beings. If we a an Animal Abuser Registry in this state, we will be protecting more than animals–we will have established a first line of defense of our children again this same kind of sick person.
    And a registry for abusers of people and Registry for abusers of animals are not mutually exclusive! Do both for Pete’s sake! I have no doubt it will be pretty easy to get a registry set up that will offer some meaningful protection to children if you have one for animal abusers.
    Please,the Puppy Law meant so much to everyone who was truly sickened at the unspeakable horror and pain that dog suffered. It came too late to save that puppy,but at least we had a chance to save other animals from the same horrendous. There are so many more that need to be protected and deserve to be protected.
    I hope the news of what you’ve done to this one law is heard far and wide. I’m definitely sharing this story about you with people all over the world.
    Please, do the right thing. Give an animal a FIRST chance to be treated with kindness instead of sickening cruelty. DON’T give a known, proven, sadist a SECOND chance to do it. Dogs are far too easy to access. Care more about protecting innocent victims, children and animals, from sociopaths then you do about sociopaths being stigmatized because they torture animals or rape children. In this case, that “stigma” could be the one thing that saves a dog from a horrific ending, or a child from unspeakable abuse.
    Brenda Charrier

  45. Animal abusers must never be given a second chance to abuse again, legislation
    must support a registry.

  46. H1385 needs to pass with everyone required to check the animal abuse registry before selling or rehoming animals. We need to protect animals from abusers.

  47. I appreciate the efforts that you’re making and the fact that you’re trying to help protect animals. But I feel that, as I am more involved in animal work (a shelter volunteer), I hear of more cases of animal neglect, through CraigsList and many other sources. I don’t understand how doing more to help animals could be a negative thing. And I question whether those that abuse children are really given a second chance — are dogs and cats not worthy of similar protection?
    Thank you —

    1. I recently adopted from a local shelter a cat that had apparently suffered abuse at the hands of its previous owner. While it is a sad fact that animal abusers are too infrequently caught and prosecuted, there would be some consolation in knowing that a person who has been identified as having hurt animals in the past would be unable to obtain another from a shelter or pet shop. Sadly, there are abusers who seek their victims among the vulnerable population of abandoned animals who reside at shelters; this is why a registry is so important and an example of where such a list would be particularly helpful. Shelters are to be commended for the care they take in trying to find safe and loving homes for their animals, and the animals should be protected from known abusers.

  48. Don’t give these beautiful creatures to people who can’t love and appreciate them the way they so richly deserve! thank you for these type of bills to protect the defenseless.

  49. In order for H1385 to have any meaningful impact all individuals who sell or offer companion animals will need to check an abuser registry. Many use social media to rehome pets to “a good home for free” without any vetting of the potential receiver. Abusers do not pay for animals but troll social media looking for victims.

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