Louisville passes measure to create public database of animal abusers

Animal abusers in Louisville, Ky., will be added to a public list, similar to a sex offender registry, to prevent them from owning pets in the future. 

The city council approved the ordinance on Thursday as an effort to combat Kentucky’s worst-in-the-nation animal protection laws, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.

Someone who was convicted of or pleaded guilty to a violent animal abuse offense would be required to be added to the public list for two years.

ADVERTISEMENT

Pet stores and shelters will be required to check the public registry before allowing someone to adopt or buy a pet, the newspaper noted.

Louisville City Councilman Brandon Coan (D) compared the practice to checking someone’s ID to prove they're 21 years old for alcohol purchases.

"Basically, the question is, should we have a registry like we have for sex offenders for animal abusers? It's a pretty straightforward question," Coan said after his measure was passed on a 16-4 vote.

"People that commit heinous crimes against animals — that are awful in themselves, they make you cringe — also are the same people that abuse children, or abuse their spouses, or shoot up schools, in the worst examples."

The registry will be maintained by Louisville Metro Animal Services and will include the offender's personal details, photograph and a description of crimes, according to the ordinance.

Offenders will be required to pay $100 annually unless they receive a waiver from animal services for financial hardship.

The registry will be developed by the city department of information technology at no extra cost to the city, The Courier-Journal reported. Coan said the fees paid by offenders will help cover the roughly $750 annual web-hosting fee. 

Kentucky was ranked the worst state for animal protection laws for the 12th year in a row in an annual report by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

Kentucky is the only state that prohibits veterinarians from reporting suspected animal abuse and is one of just a handful of states with no prohibition of sexual assault of animals, according to the report released in January. 

The Louisville database is similar to one introduced in the North Carolina state Senate to monitor convicted animal abusers. Tennessee became the first state in the U.S. to create a registry for convicted animal abusers in 2015. 

Several other states have introduced legislation to crack down on animal abuse.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) earlier this month signed a bill making animal abuse a felony charge.