TBI will soon post animal abuse offenders

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Come January 1, Tennessee will post online a list of animals abusers near you.

It will be similar to a sex offender registry, and Tennessee will be the first to have a statewide site.

"Her hind legs were put into a pot of water. Boiling water," said Cindy Marx-Sanders as she held Molly the chihuahua.

Molly was rescued from an abusive home.

"She is exactly why we need an animal abuser registry," Marx-Sanders said.

Marx-Sanders was one of the lobbyists who helped make an animal abuser registry a reality.

By January, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation will have the statewide website up and running. It will be a registry open to the public with pictures of people convicted of felony animal cruelty.

A person convicted of hurting an animal would have their picture up for two years, but if convicted again, their picture would be up for five years.

State Rep. Darren Jernigan of Nashville was a sponsor.

"We want to put it in one spot so someone in Memphis can't drive to Knoxville and get an animal if they're going to abuse it. It's going to be statewide," he said.

Angela Klein, with the Bartlett Animal Shelter, has seen her fair share of animal abuse.

"Sometimes it can be pretty heart-breaking," she said Monday.

She's glad to now have another resource to help combat abuse.

"We can go online now and check to see if people are on that registry, and it will give us one more tool to help place animals into better homes," Klein said.

But is it enough?

Marx-Sanders said it's a great start, but there's more that needs to be done.

"It does need to be expanded to include state-level misdemeanors, which are just a little bit lower on the cruelty scale than the felony level, but is still neglect and cruelty."

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