'Molly's Law' keeps animal abusers from owning pets in Marion County

MARION COUNTY, Fla. — Marion County has a new way of protecting pets from those who injure and abuse them.

County officials plan to keep track of animal abusers, the same way they track sex offenders.

It’s been a rough couple of years for Molly the dog.

Molly had a fractured skull from being beaten with a bat, and suffered stab wounds to the top of her head.

The boxer mix recovered after the attack by 50-year-old Steven Scott Fleming.

"The guy got adjudicated guilty and went to jail. But when he got out, he wanted to adopt more pets," said Commissioner David Moore.

To keep that from happening, animal advocates took Molly’s story to county leaders and proposed the Molly’s Law Animal Abuser Registry.

The registry is a lot like the Florida Department of Law Enforcement sex-offender registry, except it will be for those convicted of animal abuse in Marion County.

Marion County commissioners approved the plan.

The website is set to go up in January and will be run by Animal Services. It will also be placed on the Animal Services’ webpage.

"Members of the community can go check the website and find out who's on the animal-abuse registry," said Moore.

Like sex offenders, animal abusers will have to register their address, and how long they're listed on the site depends on the offense and whether they have abused animals before.

Advocates said the law will not only protect animals but also people, because often times, someone who hurts animals will also be violent with people.

An Ocala man was arrested in November on charges of throwing his dog into oncoming traffic. Moore said the offender, Michael Britton, would be added to the Animal Abuse Registry if he's convicted.

Officials said fines levied on abusers will be used to pay for the site. Also, people who sell or give pets away to someone who is on the site could face fines.