NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — On Friday, Tennessee became the first state to release an animal abuse registry.
It includes the names of people convicted of having intentionally abused animals. Anyone can see the registry, pictures and where offenders live.
“Where we adopted ‘Vader’ there really was no more than just an application,” said Karina Thomson of Hermitage who spent New Year’s Day with her dog “Vader’ at the Centennial Dog Park.
She rescued him from a shelter in Nashville six months ago. “We are happy to know that there will be more measures taking place that are adequate for them and safe homes,” she said referring to the new registry.
“It’s going to be another useful tool that agencies such as ourselves can do a little bit more research on individuals we encounter whether it be in the field or individuals that come to adopt animals,” said Lauren Bluestone, the director of Metro Animal Care and Control.
She said people on the registry won’t be eligible to adopt from the shelter. State representative Darren Jernigan said his neighbor asked him to introduce the legislation three years ago after David Matson was arrested and later convicted of beating a puppy to death with a tire iron.
The legislation was passed in May. Only one lawmaker in the general assembly voted against it.
First time offenders will spend two years on the registry. A second offense makes it five. Bluestone said she is focusing on the positive but since it’s the first of its kind time will tell how much it could help.
“This is very, very new. There are a lot of cities that have these types of lists, certainly nothing on a state-wide level,” said Bluestone. Thomson’s friends who were visiting Nashville from Illinois on New Year’s Day said they are hoping the registry comes to their state as well. “We are really excited that animals will be protected more,” said Thomson.
“I think it’s a great start,” she continued. Representative Jernigan said he spoke with legislators from about ten other states including California, Massachusetts, and Georgia who plan on introducing a similar bill this year.
Right now the registry is empty because it will only include people convicted after Jan. 1.