I-Team: Lawmakers Consider Animal Abuse Registry
BOSTON (CBS) - Next month, the man accused of one of the worst cases of animal abuse in Massachusetts is set to go to trial. The dog known as 'Puppy Doe' was found beaten and abused in a Quincy park. The animal was so emaciated and ill, she had to be euthanized.
While a jury will decide the fate of the alleged abuser, Radoslaw Czerkawski, state and federal officials are increasingly concerned about the number of serious animal abuse cases.
Here in Massachusetts, where animal rights groups have demanded justice for Puppy Doe, lawmakers are considering a bill that would keep track of animal abusers, similar to the way police keep tabs on sex offenders through a registry.
The bill's sponsor, Republican Steven Howitt of Seekonk, says the point of the legislation is to prevent abusers from purchasing or adopting another animal. "What it does is require pet stores and shelters to check the registry," he said.
The issue has even caught the attention of the FBI. The agency recently began collecting data on crimes against animals. Northeastern Professor Emeritus, Jack Levin, wrote a book called Extreme Killing, and says he knows why the agency is interested in animal abusers. "Animal abusers are five times more likely to commit acts of human violence, murder, rape," he said. "We are talking about a warning sign for adults who commit animal abuse. Their next victim may be one of us."
Levin points to serial killers including Boston Strangler Albert DeSalvo, Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy who all tortured animals as children as did the Columbine School shooters. In the most recent mass shooting in Texas, police say the church gunman who killed 26 people, including a baby, had a history of abusing animals as a child. "If you look at serial killers and school rampage shooters you will see that many of them had committed abuse by torturing dogs and cats," he said. "If you see a 6-year-old child that fits that definition, you should do something about it. That's a red flag."
The sponsor of the state legislation says his purpose is to protect animals and prevent abusers from buying or adopting.
Levin says he hopes it will send a strong message to abusers. "We have to make it known in society that we will not tolerate animal abuse. We will not tolerate it and we understand the link to human violence," he said.
The bill to create a statewide animal abuse registry is still in committee here in Massachusetts. So far, nearly a dozen other states have proposed similar legislation.
Radoslaw Czerkawski is due back in court next month for a pre-trial conference in the Puppy Doe case.
for more features.