Why is the Tennessee model the best model for the UK Animal Abuse Register

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Why the Tennessee Model is the best model for an animal abuse register?

The answer is simple. The Tennessee model for the animal abuse register offers an “out-of-box” solution thereby being able save government money by providing a proven structure.  Furthermore the success of the Tennessee Model makes it the best model for the UK to use for its register.

Out of Box Solution

Inspiring other states to legislate the register

So what is meant by an out-of-box solution? To begin with, the Tennessee register as been operation since January 2016 and it is inspiring other states to legislate similar type of registers. Other states deciding to follow Tennessee is a testament to the success of the Tennessee model.

Whilst the House of Commons, Committee on Environmental, Food, and Rural Affairs, Animal Welfare in England: domestic pets on page 33 believes in the merits of the register but fears it may lead to vigilantism. This author believes the Public Order Act 1986 and other legislation is can address any issue of vigilantism. Plus if Parliament does feel the need, it can increase civil and criminal penalties for anyone who acts as a vigilante based on information contained in the register.

Correct statutory definition of animal

Second reason, why this author believe the Tennessee model is the right model, the legislation defines the term animal. Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 the term animal is very broad. Hypothetically, the term animal as defined by the Animal Welfare Act 2006, section 1(3) – section 1(4), can imply the act could be applied to ants, snails, and in a very extreme case to even bacteria.  This author is not saying ants, spiders, and microbes will every be protected under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Instead this author is saying the Act, as it currently is written, could, with enough political pressure, be applied to cover invertebrates.

Whilst this author does not disagree all animals should be protected from animal cruelty, nonetheless this author believes the Tennessee definition is correct.

Only applying the register to companion animals raises a very important debate, what should the register cover? The problem arise when cost and enforcement are considered. How can you effectively enforce animal protection in a very rural area, especially for livestock? How do you carry out enforcement with a limited budget and a limited staff? What takes priority protecting a badger, a fox, or a dog? Where does the priority lie?

Granted all animals are important; however there is not enough budget or resources to equally enforce the register for all animals. This means something will take priority and others become a lesser priority. Assume for a moment, if the register covered companion animals, livestock, and wild animals kept in captivity. Where do you start? Do you protect the seeing eye dog that allows a blind person the ability to work and become a productive member of society and carry out enforcement of a pet-shop? Alternatively do you look for fox hunting events, check on zoos, check farms to ensure animal welfare is being protected; or check the woods to ensure trapping is not occurring?

The point this author is making, a broad definition makes it harder to enforce especially when all animals are treated the same. Furthermore this author believes animals that require guardianship, companion animals, should receive additional protection through longer sentencing. Reason for this belief, is based on this author’s support for the legislation and belief companion animals improve lives of individual thereby are worthy of additional protection. Finally this author is also trying to demonstrate complexity imposed by the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the need for an update.

UK sunrise

Longer Sentencing

Third point as to why the Tennessee model is a good out of the box solution, it provides for longer sentences. Is rehabilitation a better solution than increasing sentencing? This author believes, those who might benefit from rehabilitation need to be correctly identified and correctly matched to the correct rehabilitation program. Requiring everyone convicted of animal cruelty to go through a rehabilitation program, according to Civitis report on rehabilitation by Iain Murray, see for example sections 3 – 4, a generic program will not work for everyone. This author believes, we all make choices and we assess our choice on a variety of factors such as: risk, like, urgency, priority, and how it will improve our situation. In order to dissuade some from committing animal cruelty and dissuade others from re-offending, this author believes longer sentences is necessary.

Returning to the previous discussion in the preceding section, this author mentions the definition of animal and discusses the issues with the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Tennessee model provides longer sentences for those who abuse companion animals. Companion animals are animals that are kept as our companions like dogs and cats. Whilst this author fully understands, appreciates, and does not necessarily disagrees that all animals should be treated equal. This author believes companion animals improve our lives by:

  • Alleviating stress
  • Keeping us healthy by keeping us active
  • Protecting us
    • Working for the police
    • Guarding us
    • Working at ports to smell out illegal drugs, bombs, or illegal imports (e.g. foods)
  • Helping us be productive members of society (e.g. seeing eye dog)
  • Being a part of our family

At least for this author, the starting point must be companion animals because companion animals are the group of animals in most need of guardianship and protection.

Fourth reason, the Tennessee model provides a model for the animal abuse register. Under the Tennessee model the register is public; showing the photograph of the person along with identifiable information and the person remains on the register for the period of time stated on the register.

Will the Animal Abuse Register Lead to Vigilantism?

Tennessee model has raised concerns in the United Kingdom, such a public record will lead to vigilantism.  It is worth noting, it is easy to search online in the UK, find a local paper, and the local paper publishes the photograph along with the name of the individual convicted (see – this example). As previously stated in this article, from my research I cannot find any indication vigilantism has occurred against those on the Tennessee register. Since the UK animal abuse register will mirror the sex offenders register, there is no media reports this author can find no stories of physical attacks against those on the sex offenders register.  Nonetheless, there is one story about individual over 7 years ago, in 2010 posting photos of pedophiles on Facebook and a few media investigations into various aspects of the sex offender register.

In regards to the individual who posted photos of pedophiles on Facebook, the question must be asked if the register was public similar to the Tennessee model would they have posted the photos? In this author’s opinion the posting of photos on Facebook, is at best using a very liberal definition of vigilantism, a very harmless form of vigilantism. Harmless in this context means, based on the article there were no terrorist threats, the physical violence, no threats of physical violence, no group took action; and based on the article, it does not appear the police were called. Based on the article, this author argues the action is more likely fits the definition of defamation that can be easily managed by Facebook suspending the account. Since the incident in 2010 did not require police to use their powers under the Public Order Act 2006, Misuse of Computers Act 1996, Offences Against the Persons Act 1861; or similar legislation, it can be argued a register will not lead to vigilantism.

Liverpool Albert Docks Sunrise
Liverpool Albert Docks at sunrise

UK Animal Abuse Register

Without spending a lot of time writing about my proposal for the animal abuse register in the UK, I am attaching it that can accessed from this link. This vision also includes a section on cost and benefit analysis of the different funding models.

Conclusion

The Tennessee model is quickly gaining a lot of fanfare by inspiring others to implement their own animal abuse register. Sadly, the United Kingdom is lagging behind other developed nations in protecting animals and implementing an animal abuse register. Whilst the Tennessee animal abuse register model may have a few undesirable aspects, nonetheless it provides a strong working solution for the United Kingdom that can be easily adapted to meet the UK needs. I strong believe the register must be adaptable and provide a deterrence against animal abuse. However for those who commit the offense then they should face the consequences of their decision and should they decide to repeat their crime then I believe a long sentence is warranted.

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10 Things you do not know about the animal abuse register

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10 Things you do not know about the animal abuse register

 

1)      Will the animal abuse register outlaw religious ritual slaughter? No. The animal abuse register will operate within current laws and only place those convicted of violating an identified law on the register. Even if a future government bans religious slaughter, Kosher and Hallah, for example, Maxine and Brian will not advocate those who slaughter animals for religious purpose are placed on the register. Why? To begin with, the register is not about promoting a promoting a political ideology nor is about changing religious practices. Neither Maxine or Brian are familiar enough with Hallah slaughter to comment but knows something about the Jewish slaughter. The Jewish tradition for slaughtering animals, sometimes called shechita, has strict criteria that respects the animal and takes the animal’s welfare into consideration. For the slaughter to be considered Kosher certain conditions must be met, including looking after the welfare of the animal before slaughter and performing the slaughter in the way to bring about immediate death thereby sparing pain. If the conditions are not met, then animal is not considered Kosher. This means for a Kosher slaughter to occur the welfare of the animal must be considered and be done in a way that is that is painless. Finally, religion has a place and to use the register to ban religious ritual slaughter of animals goes against the purpose of the register.

2)      Does promoting the register means you are advocating vegetarianism or veganism? No. We respect individual choices and do not believe the register should go beyond its intended purpose of supporting the current legislative framework nor should it be used to promote an ideology.

3)      Will fox hunting be outlawed? Our vision for the register is based on the law in Tennessee and under the law animals that are considered wild and killed are not included.  Thus, now, we do not foresee fox hunting being covered by the register.

4)      What will the register accomplish? It is our vision an animal abuse register will help to reduce crimes against animals and people. Animals cannot speak for themselves and needs a guardian to speak for them and a register gives animals their voice. Moreover, some who abuse animals will abuse or kill people. This does not mean everyone who abuses an animal will become a murder. Nonetheless, a register can identify those at risk for more violent crimes by providing the necessary support for them and their families. Therefore, the register will be a way of creating a safer and more secure Britain.

5)      What will be considered an animal for the register? Under the Green Party policy, the definition of animal is any animal covered by the Animal Welfare Act 2006 sections 1 – 2 and does not include invertebrate animals. Nonetheless, whilst we accept Green Party definition, our vision is based on the Tennessee model whereby the definition of animal is subdivided into four categories: wild animal, animal, livestock, and service animal. Whereby, sentencing and length on the register is based on the classification of the animal.

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6)      Do you only support rehabilitation of those convicted of animal cruelty? Rehabilitation has a role, especially with juvenile offenders. Currently we are not fully convinced rehabilitation is the only answer and believe longer sentencing with rehabilitation is the answer.

7)      Will juveniles be placed on the register? Our vision, especially for juveniles under the age of 13 years old, we would advocate intervention of social service and the courts to support the family instead of placing a juvenile that young on the register. However, for a juvenile that is at least 13 years old we would support placing a juvenile on the register. Our reasoning, animal cruelty can be a gateway for more heinous crimes. The register provides a tool to track the individual and provide support needed to stop the individual from committing further crimes.

8)      Will everyone convicted of a crime against an animal be on the register for a lifetime? For most people convicted of an animal crime will come off the register and only a few, we anticipate will remain on the register for a lifetime.

9)      Why does Britain need an animal abuse register? Animals are not able to speak for themselves and as their guardians, it is our duty to protect them. Enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, is severely underfunded and in 2016 there was a 43% drop in animal cruelty conviction from 2014. Even if someone is convicted, under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, the maximum sentence is six months. In answer to the question, animal abuse register provides a mechanism to track those who are convicted of animal abuse and provides a funding mechanism for further prosecution. Finally, the register will provide tougher sentences and provide support for those who are convicted.

10)   Why is the Tennessee model the best? It is the model that has been around the longest and it is the model that is done on a wide scale. It is our belief, people in the UK focus too much on the public listing of names and photos of those convicted. Instead of focusing on the legislation. For Maxine and Brian, it is the legislation and not the public naming of individuals that makes the Tennessee model an ideal model.

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