NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Tennessee was the first in the nation to enact an animal abuse registry. Now a state lawmaker from Nashville wants to ramp up penalties even more.

Currently if you’re convicted of felony animal abuse, you wind up on the abuse registry. The law, however, still permits you to own an animal. With new legislation, that loophole would be closed.

The animal abuse registry is a great resource for people to find out if offenders live in their area. People selling animals or adopting them can also access the site to keep offenders away from animals.

Rep. Darren Jernigan, D-Old Hickory, said the idea that an abuser can still own an animal while on the registry doesn’t make sense.

“Because you’re on the registry for a reason. You’ve been convicted of felony animal cruelty,” said Jernigan.

Jernigan’s bill would ban a person convicted of felony animal abuse from owning an animal for two years. It would extend the period to five years for repeat offenders.

“When you’re a repeat offender, we all know the FBI statistics. If you start with animals, you move to human beings at that point,” said Jernigan.

The bill is gaining traction with animal owners like Brynn Mawr. She has rescued a number of abused pit bulls.

“I’m all for banning abusers. If they don’t take care of the animal, they get the right taken away from them,” said Mawr.

Jernigan is hopeful the bill will pass both chambers of the Tennessee General Assembly.



Alan Frio is the anchor of News4's evening newscasts on Saturdays and Sundays.

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