Local animal advocates and law enforcement officials are in the end stages of creating an animal cruelty registry. The proposed registry would list people convicted of crimes against animals on a website, making such information readily accessible to shelters and the general public, said City Council President Missy Mosby.
Such a registry would not require a change in local codes or state law because the information would be derived from public records, Mosby said.
Animal advocates and law enforcement officials including County Prosecutor Nick Hermann, Sheriff Dave Wedding and Chief Billy Bolin have been brainstorming and working on this proposal for many months, Mosby said. The group also consulted with City Council attorney Joshua Claybourne as well as local attorney and It Takes a Village CEO Susan Odoyo.
Mosby said the goal of the registry is quite simple: to make sure animals aren’t adopted or fostered by people with histories of animal abuse.
“It’s just very important, especially for the shelters and rescuers out there,” Mosby said. “The last thing we want to do is to take a neglected animal that’s already in a shelter and put them back in a worse situation.”
The registry has been a work in progress for the better part of a year and could be complete by the end of the month, Mosby said. While the idea was hatched before the so-called ‘Hillview Hoarding’ case that resulted in the conviction of Martha Crosley, Mosby said the case re-affirmed the need for such a registry.
The registry would list on a website the names of those convicted of crimes against animals. While plans haven’t been finalized, Mosby said the list of names could be featured on the Evansville Police Department’s website in addition to the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office’s website.
Odoyo said the registry would help local shelters and rescue groups by having information that is quickly and readily accessible.
“All the rescues may keep their own separate registry but it’s really important to have a common place, much like the sex offender registry,” Odoyo said. “It would be a great opportunity to make sure that person doesn’t have a history of animal abuse.”
Mosby said the program would be modeled after similar registries in other cities and counties across the country. She hopes to have other municipalities across Indiana do the same. By having all of the information posted online in one location, shelters in neighboring counties can enhance their background checks of applicants wanting to adopt or foster animals.
“This will be a great opportunity not just for the Evansville shelters but for any shelter, whether its in the state of Indiana or outside the state,” Mosby said.
Odoyo believes the registry won’t just be used by shelters or rescue groups.
“If there is someone giving their dog away online or anything along those lines and they want to check and see if that person has any type of history, it would be open to the public to check and see,” Odoyo said.
The proposed registry would only include those who have been convicted in Vanderburgh County. Additionally, the registry would only include the names of people convicted in 2017 and later. However, Mosby said the group is still trying to determine how long to keep a person’s name on the website.