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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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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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

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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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