POCAHONTAS, AR (KAIT) – Since a tougher animal cruelty law was passed in 2009 there have been a lot of changes. One of the changes: if you're convicted of animal cruelty you will go into a database that will keep track of your convictions. Since Arkansas passed the law, there have been hundreds of convictions in Jonesboro. All but one of those were class "a" misdemeanors. Everyone convicted leaves a trail behind that could have a negative effect on their future.
"These animals are tied up, chains have grown into their neck, there is no water out there for them," said Jonesboro Animal Control Supervisor Sgt. Larry Rogers.
Thanks to a change in the law Sgt. Rogers said animal control officers can do more.
"The days of the animal control officer just picking up dogs is gone," said Rogers.
So far in June they've had more than 1,600 desk complaints, complaints that led to investigations.
"This month we've investigated over 40 animal cruelty cases that we've taken to court," said Rogers.
When they take a call and go do a welfare check they check to see if the dog has food, water and shelter. Serious cases of neglect or abuse lead to charges.
"We're talking about a life and there is to me no warning on this right here. This life is at stake sometimes and we have to be very serious and be very responsible about this," said Rogers.
When someone is convicted of animal cruelty their lives can change.
"We look at the persons' criminal history. We can ask for their criminal history and our dispatch center will bring it up and say perhaps the person does have a fingerprint card on file," said Rogers.
But things haven't always been this way.
"You could commit animal cruelty and then next month do it again and the month after that and it was always just animal cruelty," said Rogers.
Now the convictions stack up.
"If you commit the act of animal cruelty three times within five years the penalty can get very stiff," said Rogers.
Like other crimes an animal cruelty charge can come back to bite you later especially if a future employer checks their criminal history.