Maxine Berry Justice for Chunky Campaign Animal Abuse Register

maxine and chunky

Introduction:

My beliefs and Why this Page

Maxine falls park
Maxine taking a momentary break for a chat at the falls

I believe the best way of providing a brighter tomorrow for everyone, in the UK, is by implementing an animal abuse register to help end animal cruelty. 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. This means, I believe, the role of government is limited. It means government can better provide rights instead of having a feudal system whereby each individual tries asserting their rights and fighting, if necessary to the death, to protect them.

As a nation, Britain has moved beyond a feudal system, whereby individuals assert their rights through force, to a parliamentary democracy. In order for a government, I believe, for a government to define its relationship with those who have elected them, a government pass laws to fulfill its duty to the people. Elections are, I believe, away of either reaffirming the relationship by keeping the status quo or by seeking a redefinition of the relationship by electing a new government. Therefore, I believe, laws are the reflection of what society values and much can be learned about a society by its laws.

As a part of the British government to fulfill its duty of providing protection and security, I believe it is necessary to have an animal abuse register. 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.

Overcoming Roadblocks and Misconceptions: Journey to the Animal Abuse Register Maxine Berry Tireless Fight for Those Without a Voice

maxine and chunky
maxine and chunky
Maxine Meeting Chunky

Endless Possibilities: The start Maxine Berry’s Journey

We are living in a truly exciting time, in the United Kingdom. Brexit and the upcoming general election provide endless possibilities. The most exciting possibility began about 8 months before the vote to leave the European Union, in November 2016. It is the Animal Abuse Register, Justice for Chunky, petition started by Maxine Berry.

Tennessee Based Register Modified for United Kingdom Standards

Her vision is having a register, similar to the state of Tennessee, whereby family pets are protected and those who abuse animals face longer sentences. The amazing thing about Maxine’s vision, the register not only protects pets but people too. At this point, you may be gobsmacked believing the register will only protect pets? Reality, there is a link between those who abuse animals and the increased likelihood they will harm people. No link is 100% and there are other factors that influence the decision, like longer sentences.

Now, imagine the UK having Maxine’s vision what type of country will we have? This author believes it is a safer country. Whereby animal cruelty, especially against family pets decrease, domestic violence decrease, and where appropriate support is given to help those overcome their violent ways. In essence creating a brighter tomorrow for many people living in the United Kingdom.

Is Anti-Americanism a Roadblock?

Next, if the register will protect people. Then how come the United Kingdom does not have the register? No path to change is simple and because animal cruelty is an emotive issue, there will be roadblocks along the way. When Maxine started her journey, she was realistic and knew it was not going to be easy. Her belief in making pets safe from harm and keeping people safe is her driving motivation. Currently, one roadblock Maxine is facing is the collective feeling inferior to America along with a bit of anti-Americanism. She will not let anti-Americanism or a feeling from other of feeling inferior to America.

UK Papers Can Publish Names and Photographs of Those Convicted of a Crime but the Animal Abuse Register Cannot?

So where does this roadblock originate from? The state of Tennessee since January 2016 implemented an animal abuse register for the whole state and 10 other states are currently legislating some form of animal abuse register. The argument that Maxine Berry is facing lies in the public exposure of those on the register. In the United Kingdom it is easy to search a local paper; find someone convicted of a crime with their photograph published and name published.

Publishing Names Leads to Vigilantism: Fact or Fiction?

Moving on, a part of the roadblock lies in the belief public exposure will lead to vigilantism. So what evidence exists Tennessee model will lead to vigilantism? This author has spent time searching for records indicating vigilantism after implementing the animal abuse register in Tennessee. At the time of writing this article, this author cannot find any reported cases of vigilantism in the state of Tennessee against those on the register.

This brings up the next question what about the UK? This author can find sporadic reports of vigilantism against sex offenders. Nonetheless shortly after the UK introduced the sex offenders; register vigilantism appeared to have decreased. This article seems to suggest the link between the media and fueling vigilantism.

Another issue this raises, there is a difference between those who commit animal cruelty and those who commit sex offences?

Why Design an Original Register When a Model Already Exists?

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

Many people fear Maxine is advocating a “naming and shaming” of those convicted of animal cruelty. In response to the misinformation, Maxine explicitly advocates it is not the public naming of individuals that makes the Tennessee model ‘an out-of-the-box solution.’ Instead Maxine continuously states it is the legislation. In particular, it is the longer sentences for those who abuse animals and the definition of animal that makes the Tennessee model that can be easily modified to fit the needs of the UK. If MPs review the cost and benefit analysis done by Maxine’s husband Brian they will see it is more cost effective to focus limiting the definition of animal to companion animals than the wide encompassing definition of animal as provided under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and MPs will see over time the animal abuse register can be self-sustaining.

Tennessee Model Works

All things considered, how come United Kingdom has not implemented an animal abuse register based on the Tennessee model? What is the reason the animal abuse register, based on the Tennessee model, has not become law in the UK? Is it beliefs rooted in British inferiority to America, is it anti-Americanism, or a combination of? Such a question may seem harsh and maybe unfair. Nonetheless the question needs to be asked. It is important to remember, Maxine advocates it is the legislation not the public naming that makes the Tennessee model viable.

Furthermore evidence suggests the register might decrease vigilantism and the evidence suggests there is no link between the two, regardless of the model used. Moreover, the Tennessee model is a working model that has been around since January 2016 and has a history. Finally there is some evidence to suggest a UK animal abuse register (point of sale and employer checks) based on the Tennessee model is cheaper and may be self-sufficient without the need for strict enforcement or violating civil liberties.

Finally

Regardless of anti-Americanism and regardless of some feeling inferior to American exceptionalism in the field of animal rights, Maxine Berry will continue to fight for animal rights. She will continue for fight for the Tennessee model because it is the most cost-effective and the easiest to implement. Plus the Tennessee model provides an excellent model for legislation in defining animals and sentencing. It is time for us to unite to protect our pets and protect those who do not have a voice. By implementing an animal abuse register based on the Tennessee model we can make millions of lives better in a very short time.

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House of Commons – Environmental, Food, and Rural Affairs, Animal Welfare in England: Domestic Pets

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Sex Offenders’ Register, Media, and Vigilantism Link?

Tikkun Olam: Uniting Britain Through the Animal Abuse Register

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How updating the Animal Welfare Act 2006 Make Britain Safer?

Maxine Berry Interview

How updating the Animal Welfare Act 2006 Make Britain Safer?

Intro

Imagine a place where bullying, abuse, and violence disappears? What does it look like? How does it make you feel? Do you feel technology can protect us by knowing if someone has a violent past? Will you feel more secure if the police knew where violent people live and was using that information to make our communities safer? Sound too good to be true? Maybe, but there is a something that can help to make Britain safer and decrease violence in society.

In order to make us safe and to protect us we must be willing to take a risk. Brexit offers the opportunity UK to control and make us safer. So, how can we become safer by reducing abuse and violence? The answer is simple an animal abuse register.

Animal Register: The Basics

How can an animal abuse register reduce abuse and violence in this country? In order to understand how an animal abuse register can make Britain safer it is important to understand the very basics. First, the term animal abuse register creates a lot of questions, such as: what is an animal? Animal Welfare Act 2006 defines animal in section1 but whilst it does a marvelous attempt in defining animal it raises questions about application to invertebrates and how can it be successfully funded to allow enforcement? Maxine Berry through her Justice for Chunky petition calls for a register to protect our pets, companion animals. The state of Tennessee animal abuse register, as defined by Tennessee’s legislation establishing the register, an animal is defined as a companion that is not livestock and not wild. This means only those animals kept as companions, such as dogs or cats, will be covered.

This raises the next question; how will the register operate? A more detailed explanation can be found here. The register will only include those who have either been convicted of qualifying charge or pleads guilty to a qualifying charge. As a part of sentencing the individual will be placed on the register, by the courts, for a qualifying period based on the severity of the charge and if they have been previously charged for another qualifying offence. Once placed on the register, it will then become the responsibility of the convicted to provide up to date and accurate information. Failure to comply can result in serving further jail time. While on the register the individual will be barred from owning or caring for a pet. Also, it is proposed while on the register the individual will not be allowed to work with the vulnerable, the old, or the young.

Information Access:

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

As for who can access the information? Brighter Tomorrow, owned in part by Maxine Berry, envision the information being held on a database and when required the information is searched with an indication if the person is on the register. Only those who have a right to the information (sellers and employers) and pays a fee can access it. Nonetheless, Brighter Tomorrow is open to the idea of a public register, like Tennessee, but the government needs to make money to fund it. By limiting access and paying a fee makes the register self-funding. Plus it protects the information held on it. Otherwise it will be no better than the current Animal Welfare Act 2006.

At this stage I hope you are still with me and not sleeping. If you are get a cup of coffee or a hot milky tea. Glad you are back and want to learn more. I realise the above is not the most interesting or exciting; however, it provides important information on the framework and how the register will operate. For those of you who are familiar with the Police National Computer (PNC), maybe asking, why the register if we already have this? There are two fundamental reasons. First the PNC is not accessible to the public. Second the PNC is about holding crime information such as vehicle information and it is meant to solve crimes. Whereas the registry is about providing an additional tool that contains information about the individual, the crime, and sentence. The registry will provide an additional tool and provide accessible information to the public.

Why Change the Animal Welfare Act 2006?

After discussing the foundation of how the register will operate, I am sure the big looming question is why change the Animal Welfare Act 2006? First reason, from what I understand, there is a lack of funding for enforcement. As stated earlier the Animal Welfare Act 2006 covers all animals and can cover invertebrates too. Thereby making it difficult to set priorities, difficult to enforce, and limits funding for enforcement. This means does enforcement focuses on protecting pets, badgers, horses, or pigeons? Where are enforcement officers sent? Who is charged under the Act? It leaves a lot of questions that need to be answer and because of broad focus very difficult to enforce.

Another reason for the register, it provides vital information about those convicted of animal abuse that anyone can access. It also provides a funding mechanism when more information is needed from employers and the general public. Depending on the funding model selected it is possible the register can be self-funding.

dog roaming
dog roaming free.

Third reason for updating the Animal Welfare Act, regards how animals are treated in the Act. In America, for example, there is a growing trend to change the reference from pet owners to pet guardians. This semantic change may seem minor but it is very powerful. A failure of the Animal Welfare Act is animals are treated like property (e.g. X-Box, home computer, stove, etc.) and the shift to guardian means unable to manage own affairs. Changing from owner to guardian allows a necessary change in the law. It allows for tougher sentencing because harm to animal means harm to something that cannot care for itself and not simple property damage.

Next reason for changing Animal Welfare Act 2006 is sentencing is too lax. Maximum sentence is six months and most do not even see jail. The diminishes the serious nature of animal cruelty and make it seem like a “slap on the wrist.”

DEFRA has been asked to review our vision  and has not acted upon it. Stories like Chunky happen on a daily basis and highlights how the Animal Welfare Act 2006 fails our most vulnerable. The registry provides a way forward and offers a route to bring UK in line with other countries that value animals.

The immediate focus is getting the registry along with the appropriate funding for enforcement, changes to sentencing, and change to Animal Welfare Act 2006 to bring about effective change. This is a long and at a point where public support is crucial. I ask our supporters to attend the MPs surgery, write their MP, email their MP, Facebook message them, tweet them, and to do the same for DEFRA.

I am convinced the registry can make a positive and long-lasting change in the UK. The change will mean better lives for everyone. For us to have a better life, with less violence and abuse, comes a very little cost and with minimal disruption. All we need now is continued support from the public and support of our government.

Conclusion

Finally I believe the Animal Welfare Act 2006 has merit and should be retained. Nonetheless, I believe by reforming the Act and focusing on companion animals it can lead to more prosecutions and have a lasting impact on crime reduction.

Thank you for reading and I hope you will support the cause.

We can be found on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/JusticeforChunkyCampaign/

Further Related Articles

Tennessee Animal Abuse Legislation

Vision for Animal Abuse Register with Cost and Benefit Analysis

Justice for Chunky Petition

How to Make a Brighter Tomorrow for Your Pet: Supporting the Animal Abuse Register

Tikkun Olam: Making a Better Britain Through the Animal Abuse Register

5 Things the Animal Abuse Register Will Provide the UK

Why Does Britain Need the Animal Abuse Register?

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What are 5 Things the Animal Abuse Register Will Immediately Provide the UK?

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What are 5 Things the Animal Abuse Register Will Immediately Provide the UK?

Introduction

Being a pet owner opens up your world by increasing your awareness of the world around you and makes you realise you are responsible for the care of another living thing that does not have a voice. It cannot tell you it is sad, it cannot tell you it is in pain, and it cannot care for itself. It relies on you to help it and to feed it. Similarly, being a pet owner makes you aware there are millions of people out there who cannot or live in oppression thereby living in fear of voicing their concerns. In a way, I believe, being a pet owner forces you into another world that forces examination of your feelings and how you can nurture your pet. So, how can you protect your pet and ensure they live in a safe world? The answer, an animal abuse register can easily improve their lives in five different ways.

Giving a Voice to Children, the Vulnerable and the Forgotten:

A purpose of the register is protecting the public from those who can harm them and in particular, protect those who struggle to speak for themselves, for example: children, the elderly, those who are unconscious, those who cannot make decisions for themselves; or those suffering from mental illness. This means as a part of the register, a check will need to be completed before employment can be offered for certain professions or before a professional body can accept an application for professional registration (e.g. teachers, nurses, doctors, psychologists). It will protect those who cannot speak for themselves are protected from those who can do them harm and protect them from those who may prevent them from speaking out.

Identifying Families at Risk:

Animal cruelty tends to be a crime committed by younger people and serve as a gateway to more serious crimes. The animal abuse register fundamental role is helping those in need. How? Whilst the knowledge of being put on a register may dissuade some from participating or committing a violence against an animal. The power of the register lies in identifying those who have been convicted of animal cruelty. It will allow schools, social services, Councils, and other bodies to identify those who may need support, intervention, or help. It will keep them from coming into contact with children, animals, and the vulnerable. By identifying those needing help, through conviction of animal cruelty, it will allow programs to be put in place, protect others from harm, identify those who might benefit form community based programs and keep them from further harming animals.

Making it Easier to Leave Domestic Abuse:

In the United States many states acknowledge the link between animal abuse and domestic abuse, read this great document for further information. For example, Arizona the definition of domestic abuse includes animals. This allows the family pet to be included domestic abuse protection orders and it makes it easier to leave a domestic abuse situation. Furthermore, the recognition by several states in the United States regarding the link between animal abuse and domestic abuse demonstrates the United Kingdom is lagging behind other developed Western countries in this area of legislation.

In answer to the question, how can an animal abuse register stop domestic abuse? The register is the first step in improving the laws for domestic abuse. Many times in a domestic abuse situation, the abuser will either threaten the family pet or abuse the pet in order to gain control by using fear. Having an animal abuse register will make it easier for someone who is experiencing domestic abuse to feel safe if they leave because all of their needs are being addressed. Also, the register will increase the criminal sentence for animal cruelty, thereby protecting the public from the abuser.

Helping police and law enforcement reduce crime:

It will be a tool whereby police can access information regarding those who have been convicted of animal cruelty. Unlike the Police National Computer, it will contain the name, address, and other relevant information of those convicted. It will work alongside other databases to help fight crime. Also, in some cases, it will help to deter people from committing animal cruelty thereby helping protecting animal and the vulnerable from abuse.

It will bring about a positive cultural change in the attitudes about animals and bring about a cultural change about the attitude about violence:

The current law lacks proper funding for enforcement and only provides six months in jail for the most horrific acts of violence. Having a register that includes proper funding for enforcement and tougher sentences sends a message about violence against animals not being tolerated. Also it sends another subtler message, violence is any form is not tolerated. I believe the power to transform UK society lies in the register ability to empower people. It gives information to people to decide about relationships, it provides a layer of protection, and provides a strong deterrent. By having a register, a little more control will be given to us and as a country the register will bring about a positive change.

Gandhi said a country is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable. The animal abuse register is a way for the United Kingdom to care for its most vulnerable by keeping them from harm. I will admit the animal abuse register is not a panacea. It will not stop every case of domestic abuse and it will not, sadly, stop every incident of animal abuse. Nonetheless it fills a missing gap and it brings the United Kingdom in line with other countries. It offers protection and hope for the most vulnerable. By creating an animal abuse register it can be the firewall that stops someone from abusing and potentially help them to change their course in life. If the register can change one person’s life for the better or protect one-person form abuse the all of the work will be worth it.

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Why is the Tennessee Model the best Model for the Animal Abuse Register in the UK

30 Things You Can Do Right Now to Show Your Support for the Animal Abuse Register

Link Between Domestic Violence and Animal Abuse

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The Shocking Truth What the UK Political Parties Do Not Want You to Know about Their Support for the Animal Abuse Register

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The Shocking Truth What the UK Political Parties Do Not Want You to Know about Their Support for the Animal Abuse Register

Journey Begins

In November 2015 Maxine Berry and Brian Berry started an incredible journey. Maxine started the Justice for Chunky petition calling for a UK wide Animal Abuse Regster Brian supports her by doing much of the background work. Their work is raising awareness by collecting nearly 600,000. Resulting int the Green Party making the animal abuse register their policy.

Now, approximately 18 months after starting the petition the UK government is calling for a general election. It gives the chance to get all 600,000 voices herd. In order to get all 600,000 voices herd we must act as a cohesive group. How exciting is that?

For Maxine Berry and Brian Berry it is quite exciting. Imagine if all of us who signed the petition vote and vote for the party that best supports the register? Imagine the change we can bring? Now, imagine having the the register? What do you see? I see 600,000 voices speaking in unison. The power of their vote ending animal cruelty. Their power, bringing longer sentences for those who commit animal cruelty and stopping those who abuse animals from working with the most vulnerable.

Need for Animal Abuse Register

Parties Supporting

maxine and chunky

During this time it is important each candidate and party will reflect on what is important. Politicians will talk about brexit, taxes, immigration; and benefits. These issues are largely impersonal issues that politician spin to gain votes. Politicians ignore issues that at are important to voters.

Over the last 18 months, we have reached out to all major parties including Plaid Cymru in Wales. We are grateful to Plaid Cymru and Bethan Jenkins AM for their work on the register in Wales.  Likewise we are thankful to the Green Party for their tireless support of the register and their help, has moved both of us.

Parties Needing to Take Further Action

Conservatives

Nonetheless Maxine and Brian struggle to understand why the Conservatives are not reaching out to them regarding the register. The register gives them the opportunity to look tough on an issue that impacts millions of voters. The register can give the Conservatives the opportunity to make Britain safer while protecting its most vulnerable members. Supporting the register can help the Conservatives deliver a sizable majority in Parliament.

Labour

Likewise, the register for Labour can help attract voters they may need while addressing a crucial issue that calls for a balance of rehabilitation, tougher sentencing, and protecting the public. According to recent polls Labour is approximately 15% behind the Conservatives and it appears Labour’s leader, from on media reports, is toxic to them. Supporting the register is one way for Labour to improve their image.

Lets Work Together

We are always willing to reach out to any party, to meet at their convenience, and to discuss an issue that impacts all of us animal abuse. Animal abuse is not a localised issue only impact pet owners and farmers, it impacts us all.

When you vote in the general election in June, remember so far Plaid Cymru in Wales and the Green Party in the UK are fighting to end animal cruelty through the animal abuse register. They are the ones that realise there is a link between animal cruelty and the chance the individual may become violent against another human. Just because there is a chance it does not guarantee that they will. Nonetheless, the register offers the opportunity to track those who abuse animals by placing them on register, identifying those at risk to provide them the help they need, and when a juvenile is involved providing the necessary support the family. By fighting for the register we are fighting to provide a better tomorrow for everyone, including the animals, in Britain.

Update 23 April 2017

Since writing the initial article regarding political party support the Green Party, as we understand, may not stand a candidate in Plymouth in order to support Labour. For Maxine and Brian this is disappointing. They wholeheartedly support the Green Party’s animal abuse register policy but are disappointed the Green Party attempt to support Labour. Reason for their disappointment lies in Labour’s lack of support for animal abuse register, in particular the animal abuse register is not a part of Labour’s current manifesto and they have other concerns regarding the party. This potential decision by the Green Party is making Brian and Maxine,  question Green Party’s commitment to the register. They ask their supporters to think about their decision to vote Green Party and what their vote will mean. In particular what their vote may mean if Corbyn is elected Prime Minister. Brian and Maxine hopes the Green Party will re-think their support for Labour and rethink running a candidate in Plymouth against Labour.

Update 2 May 2017

Maxine and Brian are still seeing articles about a potential Labour and Green Party agreement. We are disappointed and believe Green Party should stand on its own merits by using the animal abuse register as a way to attract voters. Instead of trying to reach an agreement regarding running of candidates to give each party the best chance at winning.

Update 11 May 2017

Today a variety of print media are leaking Labour’s manifesto. Whilst is is not a shock to us, it is nonetheless disappointing. Our disappointment lies in the Green Party trying to seek a “Progressive Alliance,” with Labour instead of believing in its own uniqueness. It is our concern by trying to align with the Labour Party and not run candidates in order to establish an alliance the Green Party will be damaged thereby hurting the animal abuse register cause. Another disappointment lies in the reports on Laobur’s manifesto there is nothing in it that call for animal abuse register. With just under a month until the general election it is our hope the Green Party moves away the “Progressive Alliance,” aspirations with Labour and focuses on winning seats in order to progress the animal abuse register.

Update 14 May 2017

I have looking through the tweets from the Green Party over the last few weeks. The focus is not on the animal abuse register and I am struggling to see any supporting the register. Instead the focus is on decriminalising sex work and immigration detention centres.  This leave me to question the commitment the Green Party has to promote the animal abuse register, to give a voice to Britain’s most vulnerable and make the UK more prosperous country. In the run up to the general election, I am hoping the Green Party refocuses its effort on the register and raise awareness of its need.

Update 16 May 2017

After reading Labour’s manifesto, I am disappointed. To begin with animal welfare gets less than 1/2 page attention and most of it is dedicated to large bold fonts. Another disappointment lies in Labour talking about increasing sentencing for animal cruelty but it does not state how much of an increase. Finally Labour manifest is silent on the animal abuse register.  If media reports are correct Green Party is working at forming a tactical progressive alliance with Labour, it makes me question Green Party’s commitment to the animal abuse register.

Update 18 May 2017

I have read the Liberal Democrats manifesto and in regards to animal welfare, I am impressed. The Liberal Democrats have specifically stated they want to increase sentencing from six months to five years for animal cruelty (page 5). This is a step in the right direction and it would have been better if there was a mention of an animal abuse register.

Update 19 May 2017

Yesterday, Conservative release their manifesto and it is disappointing. There is very little mention about animal welfare. Animal welfare only gets 1 paragraph on page 26 of their manifesto. Furthermore there is no mention of longer sentences for animal cruelty and no mention of the register.

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Can We Really Trust License Fee to Fully Fund the Animal Abuse Register [photo]

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Can We Really Trust License Fee to Fully Fund the Animal Abuse Register

dog at train stationRarely a day goes by without print media writing about another case of animal cruelty. The stories are heart-breaking leaving you feeling upset, helpless, enraged; and wanting to do something. Worst yet, under current sentencing guidelines a pet is considered mere property and there is no concept of guardianship. This means under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, the longest sentence can be given is six months in jail. A very short-time for someone who has hurt a member of the family that cannot speak for themself and relies on us for protection.

What can be done to help stop the horrific cruelty to family pets? There must be a solution? Yes, there is proven solution and it very simple. The proven solution is implementing Animal Abuse Register, similar to the state of Tennessee, in the UK is an option. The Tennessee model is proven because it has been around since January 2016 and as this author understands it, there has been no issues.

So why not implement the Tennessee model? There are two reasons: reluctance and funding. Anything new always is met with preposterous objections. In regards to implementing the animal abuse register based on the Tennessee model this author believes objections to the Tennessee model is based more on anti-Americanism, personal agenda, and dumb belief by some the major drawback to the Tennessee model  (the public naming of individuals) that may lead to vigilantism. At the time of writing this article, this author is not aware of any widespread cases of vigilantism against those named in Tennessee and without further evidence this author does not accept public naming of individuals will lead to vigilantism. Nonetheless, this author does not believe the strength of the Tennessee model solely lies in the public naming of those convicted of abusing animals but believes the strength of  Tennessee model lies legislation. The legislation strength lies in the sentencing and defining of the term animal.

What are the three types of funding models for an animal abuse register?

Implementing a register may sound like a quick solution. However, the issue lies in funding it. Currently, as this author understands it, enforcing the Animal Welfare Act 2006 is costly and there is not enough funding available. This author believes the reason why the Animal Welfare Act 2006 is failing pet owners is because it is all encompassing thereby making enforcement difficult and costly. For a register to work, it must be able to fund itself. Currently there are three possible options: Green Party policy regarding license fee, a point of sale check that can include a check being done by an employer or doing nothing.

License Fee

Is a very good policy that will quickly generate revenue for the government and depending on the level of voluntary compliance, the amount of revenue generated can be massive. The massive generation can sustain the policy for a while. However, the policy as I understand it, does not include renewal and it does not include a mechanism to ensure someone who is issued a license is regularly checked to ensure they are not on the register. Another issue lies that it is all encompassing, covering all animals thereby running into similar issues regarding enforcement. In order to ensure someone who has a license is not on the register it will mean the license will have to be read, like a chip and pin, to ensure the individual has not been added to the register. Furthermore the license fee policy is silent on how enforcement will be conducted. This issue of license checks and enforcement leaves many questions. In particular the concern the license fee for this author raises is the violation of civil liberties, such as stop and search, to ensure everyone who has a pet has a license or enforcement vans driving through neighbourhoods.

Point of Sale and Employer Checks

Point of Sale and Employer Checks is relative an exciting approach since it is a self-sustaining providing several millions for the government because enforcement will be done at the Council level instead of the national level. This means Councils can charge an additional fee to defray the cost of enforcement for pet shops. Plus this promising model is focuses on the Tennessee model, whereby the Animal Welfare Act is updated to provide longer sentences for those who foolishly attack the family pet.

Do Nothing

Cost of doing nothing may appear free but it is not. The cost of doing nothing extracts a high price on families. and society There is a link between those who abuse animals and those who have the potential to hurt others. This author is not saying everyone who abuses an animal will abuse a person. Instead this author is saying there is a link that cannot be ignored that is cost the government millions of pounds each year in prosecutions, police time, jail space; and the harm done to families.

UK sunrise

Analysis

My analysis shows over time, the cost of the Green Party Policy without increasing the license fee, without limiting exemptions, or without further defining what enforcement will include will risk the policy not being self-sufficient. It will mean increasing the license fee, increasing enforcement activities and / or for example, deny productive members of society access to seeing eye dogs because they cannot afford the license fee because their exemption was rehttp://Cost and benefit analysis of the animal abuse register for the United Kingdom as completed by Brian Berry, Co-Founder of the AAR – Animal Abuse Register / Justice for Chunky and Co-Owner Brighter Tomorrow.moved.

Whereas the point of sale with employer check is a self-sustaining approach with the potential to provide a windfall and doing nothing hurts society.

It is therefore, based on the analysis provided, point of sale with employer checks be the way forward to fund an animal abuse register.

Finally

To read the analysis: click on this link

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

remembering dogs that serve
dream
we all have a dream and ours is bringing an animal abuse register

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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