CHICAGO (CBS) — Cook County’s animal abuser registry, meant to prevent convicted animal abusers from buying pets, has never been used since it was created.
Former county commissioner John Fritchey said he fought for the creation of the registry and the whole point was to protect animals. For years, because of this neglect, that has not happened.
In Cook County, any animal abuse offender who tries to adopt or buy a pet can be fined up to $5,000.
Maybe that would happen if the county was enforcing its own ordinance and using its own system.
CBS 2 found the abuser registry the Fritchey worked to create with Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has not been used once for years.
“The sad reality is I have no doubt that there are people who should not have been able to buy a pet, who have been convicted of committing horrible crimes against the animals, who have walked out of pet shops with new victims,” Fritchey said.
He did not know the registry had not been used until CBS 2’s first story on the topic.
“When I saw your story yesterday, my jaw dropped,” he said. “This was not something that was passed as a feel good ordinance. This is something that was passed to protect animals, to prevent felons from getting their hands on more animals.”
The ordinance directs the judge to order offenders to register and the clerk to share that information with the sheriff’s office.
“I think a lot of judges aren’t aware that they have to notify these people that they have to register,” Fritchey said. “If those people aren’t being notified, then the clerk’s office doesn’t know that they have to send that information to the sheriff’s office. So now all of a sudden you have everything fall through the cracks, and you end up with an empty registry.”
Chief Judge Timothy Evans’ office is looking into this, but CBS 2 has still not heard back from the clerk’s office. The sheriff’s department said it is still waiting on information from the clerk’s office, so it can start enforcing the ordinance.
“The key though is when we find a situation like this, as we did through your report, that we bring it to people’s attention and we take the steps necessary to make sure the law works how it’s supposed to,” Fritchey said.
He took another look at the ordinance, and said in the long-term changes could be made with automatic entries to prevent this from happening again.