Supporters of Protect MI Pet initiative rally at capitol
LANSING, Mich. (WNEM) - A local sheriff was rallying support for a statewide registry of convicted animal abusers on the steps of the state capitol on Tuesday.
Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson said there’s a direct link between animal abuse and other forms of violence, including child abuse and even school shootings.
TV5′s La’Nita Brooks was at the rally and talked to participants about why the reality of this registry might depend on you.
Tuesday, April 11 was National Pet Day, but it was also the kickoff of the Protect MI Pet initiative. On Tuesday, members of law enforcement, public officials, and animal welfare activists gathered in support of the campaign.
“We have a moral obligation to protect the vulnerable, and they include our pets,” Swanson said during the rally. “Protect MI Pet. Create the registry so accountability is provided for those that are around the state and also close that civil process loophole to get those animals rehomed in good homes.”
“It ensures that people who have been convicted for a period of time cannot own animals. Right now, someone can be convicted of animal cruelty: beating, killing, starving. They could still get their animals back,” the CEO of the Humane Society of Huron Valley and Ann Arbor Tanya Hilgendorf said.
Hilgendorf said this is something that should never happen. She said she has seen firsthand at the Humane Society of Huron Valley and Ann Arbor the abuse and neglect some animals experience.
“I have animals in my shelter that have been there more than three years. It is so unfair and unjust and frankly immoral that we are taking these innocent victims and they are the only ones punished,” Hilgendorf said.
The group is pushing to have the initiative put on the November 2024 ballot and if approved it would create a statewide registry for convicted animal abusers.
“They leave animals in shelters at taxpayer expense for longer than necessary and if you support us, we’re going to close the loop to make sure that doesn’t happen the way it’s been happening,” supporter Brooke Tucker said.
“The rescues, we’re overwhelmed, we’re tired. It’s about time that something gets done,” Stacie Elliott with the Bubbles the Blind Beagle organization said.
Placement on the registry would be temporary and include the person’s name, picture, and offense.
However, supporters stress that they can’t do this alone.
“We have to put our money where our mouth is. Do we want this to stop? And if the answer is, ‘Yes,’ we need you to donate,” the director of fundraising for Protect MI Pet Betsy Felton said.
The initiative also would change the state’s forfeiture process to decrease the amount of time the abused animal must spend at a shelter while the case is being prosecuted.
If legislators don’t pass it, the group will need to collect hundreds of thousands of signatures to get it on the 2024 ballot.
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