August 20th, 2014 | Sterling
Tightening the Leash on Prospective Pet Owners
The Michigan Legislature is considering “Logan’s Law”, a bill introduced by Senator Rick Jones that would mandate background checks for anyone who wants to adopt a pet. Shelters rescue animals from abusive or neglectful homes, only to adopt them out to owners whose history with animals is unknown. It’s a challenge that shelters constantly face and something that the newly proposed legislation hopes to address.
An average of 122 arrests for animal cruelty are made each year in Michigan, based on the past 5 years. Some notable headlines have raised attention to the issue of protecting animals from abuse and neglect. In 2012, a former Michigan State University student was accused of killing 12 greyhound puppies. He pleaded guilty to three counts of animal killing, but was sentenced to a mere five years’ probation. Unfortunately, the bill wouldn’t have done much in the way of protecting the puppies as the student purchased the dogs from a breeder out of state. But supporters of the bill are hoping that other states will follow suit and mandate background checks to protect the rights of four-legged friends.
The background checks could also help non-profit animal shelters identify adopters with past convictions for animal abuse. Individuals who have been convicted of crimes relating to the abuse, neglect, or poor treatment of animals would not be permitted to adopt animals for five years. As part of the package of bills, there would also be legislation to waive the usual fee to search the state police database so that both the animal shelter and adopter would not incur an additional cost.
Michigan isn’t the first government body to consider this type of legislation. Earlier this year, New York City Council voted in favor of a city-wide animal abuser registry. All New York City pet stores and shelters must search the registry before they can sell or adopt out an animal. Additionally, Senator Sue Rezin is expected to introduce a bill in Illinois that proposes the participation in Animal Legal Defense Fund’s national Do Not Adopt Registry.
It’s not just animals that are in shelters or under the care of humane societies that need protection. When pet owners go on vacation, they hire pet-sitters or drop them off at a local kennel. When an animal requires medical attention, owners bring them in to veterinarians and depending on the required procedure, may leave them there overnight or longer. Pet owners have no choice but to leave their beloved furry friends in the hands of strangers. Some pet care organizations, including veterinarians and pet-sitting accreditation programs have taken steps to prevent animal abusers from gaining employment in the animal care field. Many have introduced background checks into their screening process as a measure to protect animals and help put owners’ minds at ease.
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