HARKER HEIGHTS, TX — Starting Friday, Harker Heights will have an animal abuser registry that will prevent people convicted of animal cruelty from keeping an animal for a few years.
Harker Heights residents with a conviction won't be able to pet sit, foster or keep an animal for three years.
During the registration process, they will have to provide their personal information, a recent photograph and pay a $25 fee.
City officials said on April 2, they planned to send letters to two people convicted of animal cruelty notifying them about registering. Those with a conviction before May 3 will have 30 days to register with Animal Services. However, if someone has a conviction after the effective date, they will have 10 days to register after the final determination of the case. Those convicted would have 10 days after arriving to the city to comply.
Harker Heights Animal Control Officer Shiloh Wester said the registry aims to prevent animals from being victims of abuse.
"The problem we've seen in the past is that we may take an animal and seize an animal or seize an animal through the courts because of welfare concerns but it didn't prevent them from getting another pet and doing it again," Wester said.
According to the city, from now on it will do a public criminal history check to find out if someone has been convicted of animal cruelty or if animal control responds to a call for service at their residence.
"The goal is to start a registry, share it with other shelters, with rescue groups, with stores that sell pets and that way they will also know that these individuals can't own a pet or purchase an animal and keep it in Harker Heights," Wester said.
If someone fails to register, the city will file a complaint with the municipal court. If they own an animal, it will be seized.
If the city finds someone registered has an animal on their property during the three year period, the ordinance will prevent that person from keeping an animal for 10 years.
If people registered comply with the terms of the ordinance for three years, that person will be removed from the registry.