Animal abuse registry unanimously approved by Lee County

Reporter: Elizabeth Biro Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:
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Lee County commissioners have approved creating an animal abuse registry, identifying people convicted of animal cruelty.

Over the past six months, WINK News has covered numerous animal abuse and neglect cases in Southwest Florida.

The research is clear, and it says a person who abuses an animal once will almost always do it again. With an animal abuse registry, if you do that once, then your name, photo and crime will be available for everyone to see.

A list all sellers and shelters must check before allowing someone to adopt an animal.

Benji is an 8-year-old pomeranian. His owner, James Michael Lyster, was put in handcuffs for beating him.

Carmine Marceno, the Lee County Sheriff, has never shied away from releasing accused animal abusers’ names, posting their pictures and exposing their crimes.

“If anyone abuses an animal in this county, we’re coming for them. We’re going to hunt them down, and they’re going to jail. I promise you,” said Marceno.

The program, sparked by the sheriff’s office, will make it easier for everyone to see the names and a picture of convicted animal abusers. The Lee County commission unanimously approved an ordinance to create an animal abuse registry.

“To be able to look at some sort of list and know that this person is not a good fit, and this person isn’t a person responsible enough to own an animal, that helps us tremendously,” said Liz McCauley, the executive director for Cape Coral Animal Shelter.

McCauley told WINK News when vetting adopters for animals from the shelter, she and her team do background checks, but it’s hardly perfect.

“We see animals neglected, abandoned, not cared for, and there’s no excuse,” said McCauley.

The Gulf Coast Humane Society supports the animal abuse registry, too. Gar Willoughby, the executive director for Gulf Coast Humane Society, told WINK News that’s because it’s not just for shelters, it’s for anyone looking to re-home a pet.

“Animals, like Louis here next to me, rely 100% on a human being to feed them to care for them, provide medical care they need and everything,” said Willoughby.

If you have been convicted of animal abuse, you are on that list. If you are ordered by the court not to be in contact with animals for a time period, that information is also on the list.

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