Cuyahoga County considers animal abuse registry

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CLEVELAND - Goddard's Law could soon get more teeth if a Cuyahoga County ordinance is passed.

"People who have done horrendous things to animals have gotten away with just small fines," said Sunny Simon, District 11 Councilwoman.

Simon is proposing a Cuyahoga County animal abuse registry that would list all convicted animal abusers. The registry would be accessible to shelters and humane societies to prevent pets from getting into the wrong hands.

Under Goddard's Law, intentionally harming companion animals is a felony. But keeping track of those convicted animal abusers and preventing them from adopting, fostering or buying animals has proven difficult to do.

According to the Ceveland Animal Protective League, abuse and neglect cases are up 12 percent from this time last year, with nearly 1,300 new cases. They said the frustrating element to the trend is not knowing who has an abusive past.

"Right now, we don't have that ability unless we have actually handled that case," said APL CEO Sharon Harvey.

She is optimistic an animal abuse registry would help staff determine the safest homes for pets.

Violators under the proposed ordinance could face fines up to $500. Abusers would be required to register with the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department, which would maintain the registry.

According to Simon, the ordinance could be passed as soon as late December or early 2017.

Cleveland Animal Protective League