Connecticut Reviews a New Animal Rights' Bill

by Katie Fisher
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Scott King, flickr

The state could introduce court advocates in animal cases.

A new bill in Connecticut is giving more rights to animals caught up in pet custody and animal cruelty disputes.

State Representative Diana Urban heads the bill.  In a recent press release, she stated "The fact the 80% of school shooters started by abusing animals should be enough to tell us that it is time to take animal cruelty seriously."

The bill would introduce animal advocates to the court system. Lawmakers are looking to adopt this practice after Rhode Island introduced similar legislation last year. Volunteer law students and lawyers would make themselves available in animal abuse cases and pet custody disputes to defend the interests of animals.

Amy Harrell with the advocacy group, Connecticut Votes for Animals, said nearly 16% of animal abuse cases are found guilty and many of them are dropped by the court.  She said too many animal abuse cases go unnoticed.

"If we have an advocate there who's helping to uncover the evidence and advocate for the animal, communicate the extent of the animals' injuries to the court I think we've come a long way," said Harrell.

Other advocates also hope the bill will help stop future violence towards humans. Annie Hornish, with state's Humane Society, said a number of studies have shown a direct link between animal abuse and violence towards humans.  She said the legislation could have an impact with reducing violent behavior overall.

"This bill hopes to teach and condone treating animals with kindness and respect and we hope that will help build a more humane and functioning civil society.

The bill is expected to hit the floor of the full legislature before the end of the session.
 

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