Michigan Bill would Establish Registry for Animal Abusers

Convicted animal abusers in Michigan would be required to register with a statewide database if legislation introduced into that state's House of Representatives becomes law. Meanwhile some equine welfare advocates worry that the legislation does not specifically pertain to those convicted in horse cruelty cases.

Introduced on April 10 by State Rep. Harvey Santana and co-sponsored by Rep. Paul Muxlow, HB 4535 would require anyone 18 years of age or older convicted of animal cruelty to provide their names (including aliases), addresses, and a photograph to a statewide animal abuser database within five days following sentencing or within five days of release from jail. Individuals convicted of animal cruelty crimes elsewhere would be required to register within 21 days of establishing residence in Michigan. Convicted abusers would remain in the database for five years, and registrants would have to pay a $100 annual fee for database inclusion. Violators could face misdemeanor charges carrying potential penalties of up to one year imprisonment, fines up to $1,000, or both.

Another bill introduced by Mixlow, HB 4534, would prevent animal control shelters and rescue operators from placing an animal with anyone contained in the database.

Chris Zavisa, a representative for Santana, said HB 4535 mimics similar legislation passed in Suffolk, Albany, and Erie counties in New York. If the bill becomes law, Michigan would be the first state to establish a statewide animal abuser registry.

Even so, some Michigan horse rescue operators worry that the legislation does not pertain to those convicted of maltreating horses. Dianne Engleke, spokeswoman for Horses' Haven rescue in Howell, Mich., believes that HB 4535 the legislation is a “good start” at stopping serial animal abuse. Still, she worries that HB 4534—which specifically mentions companion animals including cats, dogs, and ferrets—will not address equine welfare issues.

“This bill mentions companion animals … but not livestock (which is) the unfortunate designation given to horses,” Engleke said.

Zavisa said the language of HB 4534 will be updated to include equines.

Both bills have been sent to the Michigan House of Representatives Judiciary Committee for review.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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