New bill would create pet abuser registry

State Rep. Dennis Canairo

A new bill being discussed would require those convicted of felony animal cruelty to register in a special database similar to the convicted child predators' registry.

John Holmes, animal control supervisor in Pawtucket said a law like this is long overdue, not just for Pawtucket, but for the entire state of Rhode Island.

"We just had a case now that's going to court, where a small puppy was thrown in a dumpster, you know, and that case is going to court Wednesday. So we do see these cases. And I'm a firm believer that if you commit a crime against an animal, you should face the maximum penalty," Holmes told NBC 10.

And if a group of Democratic lawmakers have their way, the maximum penalty for a felony animal cruelty conviction in the Ocean State would include being entered into a special registry so your neighbors would know about their past convictions.

Democratic state Rep. Dennis Canairo of Portsmouth, Little Compton and Tiverton is the main sponsor of the bill.

"What would happen, is once they're convicted, once they have a felony conviction of animal abuse, then they would go on a registry, and what this is, it makes the public aware that if there was an animal abuser living near them, they would just keep their eyes open for any further abuse," said Canairo.

"Right now in the state of Rhode Island, we have four to five pending cases, felony cases of animal abuse that have not been completely litigated yet. So this is a proactive approach, versus a reactive approach like some other states have taken after something terrible happens," he said.

After decades on the job as an animal control officer, Holmes agrees.

"It's just one more tool that we have to try to help and save these animals. If there's an offender out there who's been convicted of cruelty of animals, especially malicious killing of an animal, then I think that the public should know it, and I think the residents where this individual live should be at least aware of what we have in our neighborhoods today," said Holmes.

This bill that would require animal cruelty convicts to register into a database for up to fifteen years after their conviction is now on the table at the House Committee on Judiciary, where it will undergo further review.