Bradenton, Florida - Republican State Senator Mike Fasano states he will continue to campaign for more support for bills SB 288, Domestic Violence Against Family Pets Bill and SB 618, Animal Abuse Registry Bill. Neither bill has been gaining much support from fellow politicians.
SB 618 would require criminals convicted of animal abuse to register with the state annually with a photograph, a current address and a $50 fee. The registry would be public. In 2010 Sulfolk County, New York instituted the animal abuse registry. Other states including Colorado, Arizona, and Maryland have similar legislation pending.
The new bills would redefine domestic violence and include family pets as part of the criminal offense and create a registry available for public inspection.
Humane advocates contend there are registries for child abusers, so why not animal abusers too?
In January, Richard Stewart was arrested for beating his new wife's three-month-old kitten because the kitten allegedly scratched him and Stewart blamed his new wife for not disciplining the kitten properly. He made his wife watch while he beat the kitten, buried the cat alive, dug her up and then brought the defenseless little animal into the bathroom and beat her until she was dead - all along forcing his wife to watch the brutality of the crime.
Stewart is currently out of jail on $3,000 bond and is prohibited from seeing or speaking to his wife.
SB 618, also known as Dexter's Law was named after a tiny black and white kitten and his litter mate who were beaten with an aluminum baseball bat in Brooksville, Florida. Wilana Joenel Frazier has been charged with the crime as she and her two small children aged eight and four allegedly beat the kittens as other children in the park looked on in pure terror.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund which promotes protection for animals and advocates for new laws state well managed registries reduce the number of abused animals and saves money. Early warning and detection policies give both human and animal agencies another way to monitor potential abusive and criminal activity involving domestic violence and its known and documented relationship to animal cruelty and abuse.
"At this time, we have to do something to protect our animals. For these horrid men like Stewart who used an innocent kitten to torment his wife and others who seem to dominate innocent victims by such horrible crimes, a registry will at the very least warn others. Even if it saves one life of a human victim and another life of a defenseless animal, how in the world can politicians here in Florida not be jumping all over legislation like this to eliminate such cruelty?," asked Jennifer Galagher of Port St. Lucie.
There has been little support in the House for sponsors which makes it impossible to move the bills to committee. Right now the main discussions have been centering on budget matters and redistricting.
"We need tougher laws in Florida," states Marion Rapt of Royal Palm Beach. "Just watch the news or read the sad stories about abuse. It's time our state stepped up and added some more protection for our animals."