What Tikkun olam Can Teach Us about Uniting Britain Through the Animal Abuse Register
Brexit Offers Unlimited Possibilities
We are living in an exciting time, in Britain. Brexit offers the chance to take control of our destiny and achieve the impossible. The only limit is our imagination. Jesse Jackson said,
No one should negotiate their dreams. Dreams must be free to fly high. No government, no legislature, has a right to limit your dreams. You should never agree to surrender your dreams.
My dream is making the animal abuse register similar to the Tennessee model law for the entire UK. Nonetheless, I am a pragmatist and realist. who understands not everyone shares my vision. Granted there are some who believe the Animal Welfare Act 2006 does not need reforming and others who believe longer sentences for those who abuse animals is ludicrous. For those who believe in the status quo and believe the route to ending animal cruelty is by making minor adjustments to the law, I believe they are living in denial. Animal Welfare Act is broken and it is in desperate need of repair. The way to fix is by adopting an animal abuse register that provides longer sentences.
I ask you to imagine a Britain with a strong animal abuse register. Whereby animal cruelty is not just a fine with minimal or no jail time. Instead I ask you to imagine a Britain that say “no” to animal cruelty and creates a society whereby animal cruelty is no longer an issue. This is the type of Britain I want to create with the animal abuse register.
Uniting Britain Through the Animal Abuse Register
So how do we create a society where animal cruelty is no longer an issue and unite? When I read the papers or watch the news, I am reminded great divisions in this country exists. Granted the vote on 23 June 2016 to leave the European Union split the country along remain versus leave. Luckily “time heals all wound,” and the country is slowly forgetting the results. Great Britain is beginning the process of leaving the EU and as a country, we are beginning to establish our identity as a nation free of the EU. The future is creating a lot of anxiety and uncertainty. Nonetheless, there is also a great wealth of opportunity.
As Britain leaves the EU it provides an unique opportunity to heal, lead, and unite. Nonetheless there are still some who cannot forget that fateful day on 23 June 2016 and are unwilling move past the election to allow healing to begin. Luckily, their negative voices are the minority that are going quiet as this unites. This leads me to ask is there a way to unite this country?
Bringing Britain Together by Making Us Safer
I believe there is a way to unite this country. Please allow me a moment to digress, when I started writing this article, my initial topic was examining the question why are men not a part of the animal rights movement? So, I started looking into the question and I began pondering the question. Struggling with question and wondering why I was not able to cohesively write about it. I began realising my focus is wrong. The focus is not why men are not a part of animal rights movement. Instead it should be about how the animal abuse register will help make Britain a better place.
This meant, I had to, once again, return to the vision for the animal abuse register. As I examined the vision, stripping away, layer after layer, of what is the animal abuse register trying to accomplish. I realise, the animal abuse register is not just about protecting animals and it is not just about ensuring animals are homed with the right guardians. It is much more, it about protecting all of us and making a great society even better. It is tikkun olam or simply put, making the world a better place.
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.
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.
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:
Keeping us healthy by keeping us active
Working for the police
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.
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.
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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