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Animal cruelty bill in legislature TUCSON, AZ

If Tucson Democratic State Senator Steve Farley gets what he wants, people convicted of animal cruelty would have to register much the same way sex offenders do.

He's introduced Senate Bill 1161 which appears to have support across the aisle.

Republican Senator Al Melvin is a co-sponsor.

It includes a list of several convictions which would require registration:

1. Bestiality pursuant to section 13‑1411.

2. Cruelty to animals pursuant to section 13-2910.

3. Animal fighting pursuant to section 13-2910.01.

4. Presence at animal fight pursuant to section 13-2910.02.

 5. Cockfighting pursuant to section 13-2910.03.

 6. Presence at cockfight pursuant to section 13-2910.04.

 7. Equine tripping pursuant to section 13-2910.09.

The bill appears to have broad public support as well but whether that's enough to become law is still unknown. It failed in its first attempt last year. Several other states, including Colorado, have also tried and failed.

Animal adoption agencies favor the registry because it will give them a database to check before adopting out an animal.

"Having this registry will make sure we adopt the animal out to a loving home," says Mike Duffey. "That's our goal."

Right now, a person conviction of animal cruelty in one county will go to another city, county or town and adopt an animal.

There's no easy way to find out if the person is a former abuser without a sometimes long and expensive records check.

Having all the names in one place "will insure the animal doesn't come back to us injured or battered," says Duffey.

There's also a strong link between animal abusers and people abusers.

"We know a lot of the mass shooting suspects have a history of animal abuse," says Farley.

He says having animal abusers register like sex offenders, and having the registry open to the public, will help make neighborhoods safer.

"You want to know if you're out walking your dog, if there is a danger to your pets or you kids," he says.

Whether the registry may be used to help prevent future violence isn't known.

But several agencies nationwide say animal abuse is a good predictor of spousal abuse. Many of the men who are convicted, have also abused the family pet or had a history of animal abuse in their past.

But in a cost conscious state legislature, the price tag could be a stumbling block.

"Several animal rights groups have stepped up to say they will fund the initial start up costs," says Senator Farley.

And after that, the state database could be handled by DPS at a minimal cost according to Farley.

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