LCSO animal abuse list helps shelters screen pet parents

Reporter: Elizabeth Biro
Published: Updated:

Punching, starving and even throwing pets in dumpsters are issues hard to watch or hear but are nonetheless very real.

Toward the end of 2023, Lee County unanimously approved an animal abuse registry as a way for law enforcement and shelters to keep tabs on people who abuse and neglect animals.

Fast forward to the present and WINK News is working to find out how the list is working.

Shelters say the registry is helping, but it’s not just for shelters. It’s for anyone looking to rehome a pet ensuring animals are going to a good home to be loved for a long time to come.

Liz McCauley, the executive director for the Cape Coral Animal Shelter, showed WINK News a puppy litter that had been abandoned.

“They were very, very sick when they came to us,” said McCauley.

Left in an RV, McCauley told WINK News a majority of their animals come from places they shouldn’t have been in the first place.

It’s then their job to ensure they don’t go back to a bad home and prevent the animals from falling into neglectful or abusive hands.

“This is the actual list from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. It’s called the Enjoined List, and this lists everyone who has been charged with animal abuse,” said McCauley.

The Cape Coral Animal Shelter checks the Enjoined List as part of every adoption.

“There’s not many people on it right now, which is a good thing, and it doesn’t go back in history,” said McCauley.

Only 14 names are on the list as of March 28, but the Lee County Sheriff’s Office says two more will be added soon.

“Before this, what we used to do is just kind of watch the news, and we’d all tell each other, ‘Oh, did you see this guy on the news? He was charged with animal cruelty.’ Then we’d have to remember to do all that and flag it in our system.”

As time goes on, the list will grow and become a better tool.

The Gulf Coast Humane Society uses the list too. Gary Willoughby, the executive director of the animal shelter, hopes others follow the example set by Lee County.

“In Southwest Florida, it’d be nice if all the adjacent counties also had it,” said Willoughby.

The Cape Coral Animal Shelter and the Gulf Coast Humane Society haven’t turned anyone away since the list began.

Everyone has access to the list.

Click here to see the Animal Abuser Enjoined List.

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