“Very helpful:” Some hope Florida law requiring animal abusers to register becomes law nationwide

LEE COUNTY, Florida — Should animal abusers have to register like sex offenders do? A Florida law that requires people convicted of animal abuse to register is gaining popularity across the country.

Hillsborough County, Florida has an online database that lists animal abusers. The tool can be used by shelters and breeders to help make sure pets find good homes.

“To have a more formal approach to being able to get some background on potential adopters will streamline the adoption process,” said Laura Braun from the Animal Refuge Center in North Fort Myers, Florida.

Shelters in Lee County currently use a ‘Do not adopt’ list to check on animal abuse convictions. Braun said a database would make the process go a lot smoother if an animal abuse registry system is implemented in this part of the state.

“We’ve taken in animals that have come from less than perfect situations,” said Braun. “Being able to check up on where we are placing our animals will be very helpful.”

Some dog owners in Cape Coral said they’re on board with this tool.

“I think every individual should be able to know where to find them,” said Michael Schmidt. “Just like child abusers and sex abusers, we should know who and where they are so you can avoid them.”

FOX4 reached out to Florida governments to see if and when animal abuse registries would be set up.

Collier County has a reporting system in place, but it’s not instant. You’d be able to access the information through public records.

Leaders in Cape Coral, Estero and Bonita Springs said they’re aware of the law. They said it’s up to the county to implement a database like the one up in Hillsborough County.

Charlotte County officials said they have a draft ordinance to set up an animal abuse registry. The animal control manager said he hopes to submit the ordinance to the county attorney’s office by mid-January.

Some dog owners said they hope this becomes law everywhere.

“I hope it becomes a national program,” said Bob Hite. “A sex offender has to register in Florida, Michigan, or wherever else they go. I think animal abusers should carry that brand wherever they go.”