Maxine Berry Justice for Chunky Campaign Animal Abuse Register

maxine and chunky
Maxine Meeting Chunky

Introduction:

My beliefs and Why this Page

Maxine protratiI believe the best way of providing a brighter tomorrow for everyone in the UK is by implementing an animal abuse register. Furthermore, I believe to get the best result for the animal abuse register in the United Kingdom is by reaching out to those who are interested in the register and reach a common vision. My husband and I are quite accessible. Either of us are willing to speak to anyone at anytime regarding our vision for the register and how the campaign can help them.

Sadly, very recently I have become aware of  third-parties, not affiliated with the Justice for Chunky Campaign, providing false information about the campaign’s position on the animal abuse register. At the moment I am mortified that this has happened and I am addressing the issue with those who hold the wrong data. At a minimum, I believe giving out wrong information about the Justice for Chunky position without authorisation and without contacting us for clarification, is negligent. By negligently giving out wrong information I believe, it also amounts to a breach of the Data Protection Act and at worst amounts to defamation.  In order to combat the spread of wrong information about the campaign, I am putting together this page to clarify the campaign’s position and it will be periodically updated.

Underpinning of My Vision

I believe, government has a contract with the people it represents. As a part of that contract, people give up certain rights in order to have protection, security, property rights; and safety. I further believe, laws are the reflection of what society values and much can be learned about a society by its laws.

Over the last few years there has been a lot of focus on animal cruelty in the media resulting in several animal rights campaigns starting and mine is one of them. I believe, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 is outdated and needs revising. Based on my contacts, research, and discussions I believe the following:

  1. Animal cruelty does not only harm the animal and the owner of the animal, it harms society.
  2. Animal cruelty for some, not all, is a gateway to more violent crime against people.
  3. I believe, all animals need protecting. Nonetheless, we do not live in an ideal world. We live in a world with limited resources and where society places different values on very similar events. Therefore, I believe definition of animal under the Animal Welfare Act needs modifying by classifying animals. Such a change will improve limited resources for enforcement and better protect the public.
  4. Longer sentencing is needed in order to provide an effective deterrence against animal cruelty.
  5. Rehabilitation should be considered if there is a suitable program that meets the individual’s needs. However putting someone in rehabilitation for animal cruelty for the sake of putting them in rehabilitation or repeatedly putting them in rehabilitation when previous attempts have failed is a waste of taxpayers’ money.
  6. A register is a good way to report on the crime, track those, and put programs in place to help them.
  7. A register may cut vigilantism against those who commit animal cruelty
  8. Register, if done correctly, can be self-funding. However, I have serious reservations regarding a license fee model.
  9. How the register operates, checks required, and how it is administered is up to the government.
  10. The register should work within the law to strengthen our laws. A register can be a quite a powerful tool and it needs to used ethically. I believe the register should not promote a political ideology, it should not promote a life-style ideology, and it should not promote any social justice cause. An animal abuse register
  11. I oppose using the register to promote a ban on religious slaughter or using the register to limit religious slaughter.
  12. Whilst I know many vegans and vegetarians, I do not believe the animal abuse register is a good way to ban eating meat and I do not believe banning meat is a viable option.
  13. I believe sufficient checks need to be in place to protect information, ensure the solution works for the United Kingdom, and where appropriate laws are changed to ensure information stored in the register is protected.
  14. Finally I do not believe “reinventing the wheel,” when a solution that can be adapted for the United Kingdom already exists.

In the rest of this document, I will address my position and in particular address the false information that is circulating.

Petition

5 Year Ban

Specific Quotes from Petition

The Justice for Chunky petition was started by me in November 2015 on charge.org and currently it has just over 578,000 signatures. In my petition I state:

…There’s nothing to prevent them doing this again. I’m asking that anyone who abuses animals, regardless of their age, be placed on an Animal Cruelty Register which would follow them for life. In some states in the US they already have animal abuse registries. If this had happened in New York these abusers would have to sign onto an animal abuse list that would prevent them from ownership of animals. The UK need to introduce a similar law…

I then go on to state:

…A five year ban is not sufficient– it is hard to implement in practice and why do we assume abusers attitudes will have changed after a few years? Our legal system should have an animal abuse list so that we are aware of people who have mistreated animals…

Rush to Judgement?

Those who rush to judgement, without seeking clarification, believe I am against the Animal Welfare Act 2006 provision for implementing banning orders against those who are convicted for animal cruelty and believe, this is the point of the position.

Even though the petition states, the provision for banning ownership of animal under current legislation, the Animal Welfare Act, is difficult to enforce. Nonetheless, it is obvious from reading the petition the point of the petition is not ending the order that keeps those convicted of animal cruelty from owning an animal. The point of the petition is implementing the animal abuse register because the current deterrent, provided the Animal Welfare Act 2006, is not sufficient thereby leading to the abuse Chunky suffered.

One final point, whilst the petition states I advocate placing individual on the register for a lifetime, I have through the work I have done advocated time on register at least as long as the sentence.

It is the Legislation not the Open Register that Makes the Tennessee Model the Basis for the UK Animal Abuse Register

butterflyThree Reasons Why the Tennessee Legislation is Better Than the Animal Welfare Act 2006

In the petition, I do not mention the Tennessee model but use the Orange County New York example. At the time of starting the Chunky petition, the Orange County register was the first implemented register. However, it only covered a county. The Tennessee model covered a whole state, not a county or city. I chose Tennessee model for the vision submitted to DEFRA because of the legislation. The legislation, I believe, offers a strong alternative to the Animal Welfare Act. I believe, a problem with the Animal Welfare Act 2006 beyond the short sentencing is its very broad definition of animal making enforcement difficult and making it difficult properly allocate resources to fund it. In an ideal world where all things are equal and there is unlimited resources, then the Animal Welfare Act 2006 is sufficient. It will be great if hamster is seen the same as a dog or a noble horse. Similarly, a fox or a badger holding the same value as a cat. However we live in the real world where animals take on different roles in society.

Reason 1: Societal Values

Think for a moment, when was the last time you saw a badger helping a blind person cross the street, a hamster being ridden to help someone with cerebral palsy to learn balance, or a fox smelling for explosives at an airport? Again thinking of another scenario and imagine flying. If I you are on a plane 30,000 feet and state you have a bomb, your jail sentence will be much longer than if you go to a bus station stating the same thing.

The point I am trying to make is simple. It is about societal values and how laws reflect the values of society. I believe, the Tennessee legislation better reflects the values of British society than the current Animal Welfare Act.

Reason 2: Longer Sentences Increase Deterrence and Help Reduce Animal Cruelty

Next reason why I advocate the Tennessee register. It regards longer sentences. The Tennessee legislation differs from the Animal Welfare Act 2006 regards sentencing. Tennessee legislation, I believe, offers a better solution because the definition of animal is limited to companion animals. By limiting the definition to companion animals it allows for more resources to be spent on enforcing the law and providing better protection for companion animals.

Another reason for supporting the Tennessee legislation, there is evidence suggesting longer sentences increases the risk for committing the crime thereby acting as a deterrence. This is supported by less people, for example, are prosecuted for violent crimes against a person versus number of convictions for shoplifting.  Why? Shoplifting is a minor crime that has a short jail sentence thereby carrying less risk for the individual. Rehabilitation of Offenders Act protect many who commit minor crimes from disclosing their sentence because their sentence will be spent within a few years’ time.

Longer Sentences Increases the Risk for the Crime Thereby Acting as a Deterranct

To stop animal cruelty, I believe, the risk of committing the crime needs to be increased. I believe the Tennessee model provides a road map to do this. Nonetheless, I also believe there needs to be a societal change regarding the attitude towards animal abuse. At this point you may be thinking, I only support longer sentences and not rehabilitation? Granted in the UK, rehabilitation is a part of the criminal justice system. I do believe, where appropriate, rehabilitation should be tried. However, there is evidence that suggests rehabilitation can only work if the program is matched to the needs of the individual. This means individuals placed into rehabilitation programs that cannot prove success or placed into programs that do not meet their need will not be rehabilitated. Thereby costing millions of wasted pounds to the taxpayer.

Reason 3: Tennessee Model Works

Third strength of the Tennessee legislation. It has been active since January 2016 and other states are also introducing animal abuse register legislation.

I know in the UK there is concern that a register will lead to vigilantism. When the UK introduced the sex, offenders register there is antidotal evidence suggesting violent crimes against sex offenders decreased. Likewise, I have been monitoring US news sites and I have yet to read any cases of vigilantism against anyone on the Tennessee register. I mention this to demonstrated the fear of vigilantism against anyone on the register is mostly unfounded.

Will Longer Sentences Lead to More in Prison?

Finally, you may be thinking by having longer sentences will mean our jails will be overcrowded with animal abusers. I believe there are many options for sentencing that does not always involve jail or involve a small time in jail. Where appropriate, I believe in finding a solution that works best for society and the individual. This could mean, rehabilitation, community sentencing, serving the sentence at home, community service and / or spending a part of the time in jail. Nonetheless, where the individual is not suited for alternative sentencing or is a repeat offender then I am open to the individual serving time in jail. In answer to the question will longer sentences mean overcrowding in prisons? The answer is a complex one that depends on what society values at the time of implementing and how society believes the register best fits it.

Maxine Berry Interview
Maxine Berry being interviewed before submitting justice for chunky petition to DEFRA

What about the Open Register?

My Petition and My Work

My Vision

To begin with my petition does not state I support an open register, it states I support an animal abuse register for the UK. In my vision section 2.2.2.1 I state the register must be a hybrid between the United States Tennessee model to meet the needs of the United Kingdom. Furthermore,  in Section 19 of Appendix 4 of my vision regarding a proposed statutory instrument that make the changes to the current laws in order to support the register, I state the register is to be open to the public. Section 19 does not mean the register is an open register. Instead section 19 provides the necessary legislative foundation to allow those with a legal need for the information (breeders, certain employers, owners of pet shops, etc) to have access to the register for purposes related to performing the register check.

Data Protection

Finally in section 19(b) of Appendix 4, I state the information is to be accessible to the public for the length of the conviction. This is a data protection issue. Ensuring once serving the full sentence, breeders and pet shop owners cannot access the name. Whereas employers doing enhanced criminal background checks may need access to the information. Therefore, the correct interpretation of 19(b) is compliance with current data protection rules.

Open Register? Where Do I Say That?

Next, I have not pushed the idea of an open register. Nowhere in my petition have I stated I support an open register nowhere have I stated an open register is the only solution. Those who believe I support an open register based on me using the Orange County New York example in my petition are wrong. The example is used to highlight a register already exists. Since the register is at the county level in New York state the county cannot impose longer prison times than what the state of New York or the United States federal government provides for the same crime.

Instead, I have supported the concept of an accessible database. This is supported by the work done with Bethan Jenkins AM and a bit later the Green Party. Whereby both envisioned registers were not open. My vision also takes into account an accessible database for those with a legal need to know.

My Position

Before speaking about my position, it is worth noting the UK has laws in place to prevent both vigilantism and illegally accessing information. This means anyone who attempts to access information on the register without having a legal right to access it can face criminal prosecution and it also means anyone who decides to “take the law into their own hands,” can face prosecution. Since there are laws in place to protect illegal access of information and my proposal requires anyone accessing the information to have a lawful reason, this implies my register is not open.

In my current vision paper, I do not advocate for an open register similar to the state of Tennessee. Instead on

Under my proposal businesses and breeders who sell animals as defined by the relevant legislation will have to subscribe to the database. Subscription will require having a lawful purpose to access the information and proper procedures are in place to ensure access the information. At the point of sale the seller will collect information from the buyer and then enter it to an online form. The form will be submitted, a query runs in the background, and the seller only receives notification if the sale can be approved. No information is sent regarding any convictions and personally identifiable information is back to the seller. Finally under my proposal, I would also seek animal abuse register check be done before employment can be offered to anyone who works with children, animals, or the vulnerable.

Finally

As I have stated in the article and in other publications, I am willing to speak with anyone about the register and reach out to those that share a common interest. I have a vision that is based on something that already is working and can be easily modified to fit the privacy concerns in the UK. Furthermore, I believe my vision can be self-sustaining and create money for the UK. I want to be clear, because my position is based on a model from outside of the United Kingdom it does not mean there is anything wrong with a British solution. Instead of believe in best practices and using what is proven, the Tennessee model is proving to be the model of choice for those who yearn for an end to animal cruelty. My model I believe meets the needs of those who yearn to protect their dogs, birds, cats; and hamsters from those who can harm them. From my discussions, I know there are many who cry out for longer sentencing in order to deter those from causing them harm and by having longer sentencing, it can mean we can as a nation reach out to those in need of help. Nothing is perfect but I believe we need to start somewhere. If someone does not believe the Tennessee model is not the correct model then I ask them to show me evidence that is wrong instead of basing their statements on either anit-Americanism or opinions not stated by facts.

Contact Us

Further Information

Tennessee Animal Abuse Legislation

Maxine’s Journey to the Animal Abuse Register

Uniting the United Kingdom with the Animal Abuse Register

Making a Brighter Tomorrow for you Dog by Supporting the Animal Abuse Register

Cost and Benefit Analysis of Three Models for the Animal Abuse Register

Justice for Chunky Petition

Facebook Page – Justice for Chunky

 

 

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