Animal abusers may soon have to register with state

7:14 PM, Jan 6, 2012   |    comments
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New Port Richey, Florida - It's hard to imagine how anyone would hurt an animal. They are helpless and defenseless. They have no voice to cry out and no one to turn to when things get bad, as they often do.

These days, it seems as though we hear more and more about sickening cases that just make you want to cry.

No one will ever forget the story of Dexter, the kitten who was beaten to death, detectives say, at a Hernando County park by a mother and her children. 

Photo Gallery: Dexter at PetLuv

Sadly, little Dexter was attacked with a baseball bat and had to be euthanized.   

The woman investigators who say was responsible was arrested. Animal abuse is considered a third degree felony. 

When State Senator Mike Fasano from New Port Richey heard about it, he was heartbroken and says he had to do something.

Senator Fasano told 10 News, "What's going on in the mind of someone who could do this to a kitten?  No sane person would allow something like that to continue."

Senator Fasano acted quickly. He began working on what he calls, "Dexter's Law," a bill that basically says when people are convicted of animal abuse, they would have to register online, much like a sex offender. 

If we can have a sex offender registry, why not an animal abuse registry, the Senator theorized.

The idea is to protect animals from abusers. 

The senator says his adopted dog, Callie, is his inspiration, along with Dexter.

Senator Fasano added, "It's kind of sad that we have to do something like this, but these animals can't defend themselves."

The bill will be introduced next week when the legislative session starts in Tallahassee. It would benefit local shelters and groups like Lab Rescue where they could screen potential pet owners. To read more about Lab Rescue, you can visit them here.

Pat Bayers and her husband have rescued dogs for a decade at their home in New Port Richey and love this idea.  In 10 years, they've saved 776 labradors.

While watching her rescues frolic in the backyard, Pat said, "The more information we have, the better. We hate to have a dog rehabbed and been abused or neglected and then go into a home where they'll be neglected."

Convicted animal abusers would have to register with the state and pay a yearly fee, plus they'd have to re-register every time they move. 

Senator Fasano knows the registry will not bring Dexter back. Hopefully, it will preserve his memory and keep other abusers from hurting animals anymore.

The state of New York recently passed a similar law to implement an animal abuse registry. It is scheduled to go into effect in the next six months. 

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