Texas Lawmakers Proposing Animal Abuse Registry

By Abby Reed
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - Paul O'Neill oversees the Midland Animal Shelter. He says Midland is fortunate, in that it doesn't see a lot of animal abuse. However, he says he knows what it can lead to.

"Hurting animals, those are the ones that have been shown over decades past, to move on to bigger and better targets of that maliciousness," O'Neill said.

Two state representatives want to prevent that maliciousness. They've drafted a bill for an animal cruelty registration program. It would look similar to the states sex offender registry. It would have offender's names, photos, addresses and the details of their crime.

Here's how it would work: after one felony conviction of animal abuse, offenders who are at least 17 years old, would have to register. They would be required to report to local law enforcement every year - and if they are repeat offenders, they would have to report every three months. There is a catch, though. Not everyone who is convicted of abusing an animal, would qualify to be on the registry.

Most animal abuse cases across the state and in Midland County are only Class C Misdemeanors. The registry, though, would only be applicable to felony abuse cases.

"Most of the people, probably, that are going to end up on that database, have some serious issues, anyway's," O'Neill said.

We let viewers know about the proposed bill on our NewsWest 9 Facebook page. Everyone who commented, said they thought it was a good idea. O'Neill agrees, not only as an animal expert, but as a Texas resident.

"I would like to know that. You know, when we moved here, we looked on the sex offender database. I have four children, and it would be comforting to know, who your neighbors are," O'Neill said.