Welcome to the many loopholes in the nation's legal system that allow animal cruelty offenders to repeat their crimes.
"About 14 states have some sort of law that allows a judge to order an ownership/possession ban on animals for a convicted animal abuser," explains Allie Phillips, director of the National Center for Prosecution of Animal Abuse.
For all other states, Phillips says, a ban can be requested by a prosecutor at sentencing, but is at the discretion of the judge. And there are limits to the sentence. First, the ownership/possession bans can last only as long as the term of probation. And second, although there have been "lifetime" bans on ownership, "who is going to oversee that for compliance?" asks Philips. In essence, while abusers are under probation supervision, it is easier to make sure that they do not obtain another animal.
But after that, she says, there is no oversight.
Databases: the holy grail of information?
What also adds to the inadequate protection of animals at the hands of recurring abusers is the remarkable absence of any central database listing animal cruelty crimes.