Should you have to go through a criminal background check to adopt a pet? The state of Michigan is considering just that right now, as a piece of legislation commonly known as “Logan’s Law” makes its way through the State House of Representatives for the second time.
Under Logan’s Law, state-run animal shelters would be required to do background checks to find any history of animal abuse in potential adopters. People who have been convicted of animal abuse would be banned from adopting for at least five years under the law.
Logan’s Law already made it through the House last year with a vote of 98 to 12, but failed to make it through the Senate. Representative Paul Muxlow, who’s sponsoring the bill, says that the bill didn’t make it through because of scheduling problems. This time, he expects to see it go through. “With the significant vote we had last time, I’m hoping there won’t be a problem,” he told the Detroit Free Press.
Logan’s Law was inspired by an incident in March of 2012, when Matt Falk’s Siberian Husky, Logan, was attacked in his kennel in Falk’s back yard. According to Falk, an unknown assailant threw battery acid on Logan, burning his face and muzzle. “[D]ue to his age & the toxic nature of his injury Logan’s liver & kidneys began to fail,” Falk writes on the Logan’s Law Facebook Page. “On July 9, 2012, Logan curled up at my feet & passed away quietly in his sleep.”
As a result of the assault and Logan’s death, Falk began to advocate to “make a registry of those convicted of animal abuse, and require any animal shelter to refuse sale/adoption of an animal to anyone on list.”
In fact, such a database already exists: the Michigan State Police maintain the Internet Criminal History Access Tool, which includes animal cruelty convictions. Muxlow says that while it usually requires a $10 fee to access, the State Police have required to waive that fee for animal safety organizations.
However, there are definite loopholes in the law as it stands. Right now, it only covers state-run shelters, which means that there are still plenty of places that someone with a record of animal cruelty could adopt a new pet. “If people are convicted of animal cruelty, or similar charges, they would not be able to adopt a pet for at least five years. The law would cover state-run animal shelters, but wouldn’t cover pet stores or local animal rescues,” animal rights lawyer Richard Angelo told NBC News.
Nevertheless, Falk sees the bill as a step forward: “It’s going on three years since it happened,” he told the Free Press. “It has been a long haul, but if this is passed it really will open the door for a lot of states to get the same thing.”
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