First in US: Tennessee Animal Abuse Registry begins Jan. 1

The state is starting the first animal abuse registry named for having intentionally abused animals. Dec. 29, 2015

GREENEVILLE -

(GREENEVILLE) Man's best friend is an understatement in the Hopson household.

Jason and Amanda have rescued 400 dogs and counting. The couple has spent the last eight years running Bright Hope Animal Rescue in Greeneville.

"It's just a passion to try to help," said Jason. "You see them injured or neglected or scared, the worst of the worst, and then you put them into a home that loves them unconditionally. It makes everything worth it."

We first met the Hopsons last year while fighting to save a starving dog, suffering from severe neglect.

RELATED: Dog starved gets second chance

“Ruger was by far the worst Amanda and I encountered, back then and today," said Jason.

Cases like Ruger's are unfortunately common, and can be much worse.

"Some of our close friends’ dogs have been burnt alive, drowned, beaten to death," said Jason. “And it's rampant. It's not an isolated thing. It happens all the time."

The rescue brings in animals from all walks of life, some struggling with physical and emotional abuse. 

"There's some dogs we can't sweep around, cook around and you don't know what they've been through to be like that," said Amanda.

A new law is about to change how Tennessee tracks animal abusers. 

On Jan. 1, the first Animal Abuse Registry in the country will be online and accessible. The list names offenders convicted of intentionally hurting animals.

Anyone can access the registry, see a picture of the offender, and learn their age and where they live.

"This bill was modeled after the sexual offender bills where there is a registry that is kept on people who have committed sexual offenses, so people can look it up and see if they have a record, and we wanted to do the same thing with animal abusers," explains state Sen. Richard Briggs, R-Knoxville.

As a co-sponsor of the bill, Briggs believes it will be a strong deterrent.

"When you're unkind to an animal, that really gets the public's attention," said Briggs.

 The registry contains those convicted of aggravated animal cruelty, or felony animal fighting. First-time offenders will spend two years on the registry, while a second offense makes it five.

The Hopsons feel the law will have an enormous impact, but they hope more will come.

"I would like to see them (offenders) on there forever, personally," said Jason.

"Animals can’t talk for themselves so we have to be their voice," said Amanda.

It's their hope the new step will prevent abuse in the future, and hold those responsible, accountable. 

YOU CAN FIND THE SITE HERE: ANIMAL ABUSE REGISTRY

 


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