Local Politics

Monday, Feb 22 2010 06:29 PM

Dean Florez wants animal abusers to register publicly

By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez wants to make animal abusers register with the police the way certain sex offenders do.

Under a bill Florez, D-Shafter, just introduced, adults convicted of felony animal abuse would have to register their name, birth date, address, name and address of employer and specific animal abuse conviction. They'd have to cough up a photograph and other identifying details of themselves.

The registering law enforcement agency would have to forward the information to the state Department of Justice. By Jan. 1, 2012, the Justice Department would have to publish much of the information online.

Florez said it would be the first such registry in the nation.

Pet adoption centers and pet stores could use the information to prevent animal abuse felons from adopting and possibly harming animals, he said.

And, Florez said, police would gain another tool to monitor offenders given that animal abusers are five times more likely to commit a violent crime.

"We think this is just the next step in terms of making sure California is at the forefront of animal protection," he said at a news conference.

Florez is waiting for an analysis of what the registry would cost but to fund it, he's proposing pet food buyers pay a still-unspecified tax per pound at the store. The money would fund a new Animal Protection Fund, which would be used to create, administer and update the website. Any money left over would fund spay and neuter programs at the local level.

If the pet food charge was 3 cents per pound -- which is the upper range being considered -- it would cost a cat owner about $1.50 a year and a dog owner $9.50 a year, Florez said.

Asked about the fact Californians have made it clear in recent years they don't like tax increases, Florez said: "After speaking to advocates, we have become aware that pet owners find this to be a reasonable price for the protection of animals."

Speaking of animals...

Kern County Animal Control will host a spay/neuter event with the Angel Dogs Foundation and Friends of the Kern County Animal Shelters Foundation from 8 a.m. to noon Tuesday at the county shelter in Bakersfield, 201 South Mount Vernon Ave.

The Angel Dogs Foundation will have its mobile surgery unit on site and 30 free spay/neuter surgeries will be performed thanks to funding from former Grey's Anatomy star Katherine Heigl and the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation.

A limited number of slots is still available and certain income restrictions apply. Dogs and cats are welcome and all animals being spayed or neutered will also receive a microchip and rabies vaccination. Between 9 a.m. and noon, dogs in need of regular immunizations can receive the DHPP vaccination. Cats can receive the FVRCP vaccination.

Appointments are required and can be made online at www.angeldogsfoundation.org or by calling 1-888-504-SPAY (7729).

Also to honor the day, county animal control and the Kern County Animal Shelters Foundation have partnered to reduce the adoption fees for the first 10 animals adopted this day.

-- From the "Politics, anyone?" blog at Bakersfield.com/blogs.

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