Thousands of dogs and cats are sitting in animal shelters across the country waiting to be adopted, but how can the animal lovers running the shelters be sure they are sending them off to safe homes? Lawmakers in Michigan are trying to make background checks mandatory for anyone adopting from a municipal or private shelter.
Two anti-animal abuse bills in the state have passed committee and are now being considered by the full Michigan House of Representatives. The proposed legislation would give shelters the power to deny adoptions to anyone convicted of animal abuse. These convictions could include everything from neglect or cruelty or even using animals for fighting.
A couple of years ago the state tried to establish the first animal-abuse registry. It was supposed to operate just like sex-offender registries, but it turned out the process was just too expensive. Under this new legislation, the Michigan State Police will wave the fee for the background check so it doesn’t cause a financial burden on the shelters.
Julia Willson, President and CEO of the Capital Area Humane Society in Lansing, Michigan, says only about 30 percent of adoptions are made through shelters. She says the bill really needs to apply to people getting dogs from breeders, as well. She is also concerned that good, loving prospective owners might not adopt because they are concerned about someone looking into their past.