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.

Comments / Contact Us

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Related Articles:

Justice for Chunky Petition

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

Tennessee Legislation for the Animal Abuse Register

States Legislating Some Form of Animal Abuse Register

Sex Offenders’ Register, Media, and Vigilantism Link?

Tikkun Olam: Uniting Britain Through the Animal Abuse Register

Making Britain Safer by Updating the Animal Welfare Act 2006

5 Things the Animal Abuse Register Will Immediately Provide for the United Kingdom

Political Parties That Support the Animal Abuse Register

Justice for Chunky Facebook Page

FAQs Regarding 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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