Responding to evidence that people who abuse animals often go on to attack humans, states are increasing the penalties for animal cruelty and developing better methods for tracking convicted offenders, the New York Times reports. Legislators are paying close attention to people who keep large numbers of pets without providing for their most basic needs because such offenders are prone to recidivism and can cost counties huge sums for cleanup costs and the care of rescued animals.
At least 27 states allow courts to bar convicted animal abusers from owning or coming into contact with pets, nearly double the number a decade ago, and 3 other states are considering similar measures. Tennessee and California are considering bills to create online registries of animal abusers. “It's not that animal abuse is more prevalent,” said Stephan Otto of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “What has changed over the past few years is the recognition that animal abuse is often a warning sign for other types of violence and neglect.”