New California Bill Seeks To Give Abused Animals A Voice In Court


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Riley after healing up from the abuse

Crimes against animals are insidious and often go unpunished as animals are unable to speak up for themselves. This new law would allow an advocate to be that voice that can speak up for the needs and interests of an animal that has been the victim of abuse crimes.

Those needs will center around the animal’s well-being and health including the prevention of future animal cruelty on other helpless victims.

According to Jennifer Hauge, Animal Legal Defense Fund, “A dog may languish in a shelter while her abuser awaits trial, kittens born to a cat held as evidence will need to be placed in loving homes, and dogs used in fighting will almost certainly require rehabilitation.”


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Defense attorneys have a duty to their client and prosecutors have a duty to the state, but no one is tasked with directing the court’s attention to the animal’s needs. Advocates can be appointed at any point after a criminal cruelty proceeding commences—and are appointed entirely at the judge’s discretion.

“The interests of these animal victims must not go unaddressed,” said Assemblymember Nazarian. “As such, this proposed new law will give judges, prosecutors, and defense counsel more complete information from which to operate.”

The very first use of an animal advocate program came in 2016 in a Connecticut courtroom. Federally the first use of an animal advocate program occurred in 2007 during the Michael Vick dogfighting case.

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