Sunday, January 6, 2019

Abused Cats And Dogs Could Get Their Own Lawyers In New Jersey

Proposed legislation will mandate the abused cats and dogs get their own lawyers.
Sadly, we've all heard about awful cases of animal abuse. And often, the abusers get off with minimal or no penalty. But that could change in New Jersey, where Democratic Assembly woman Annette Quijano recently introduced legislation that would help abused cats and dogs get their own lawyers.

The lawyers or advocates would be volunteer attorneys and law students.

Voices For The Voiceless

Quijano's bill is modeled after similar legislation in Connecticut that mandates that cats and dogs get their own lawyers when their abuse cases go to court.

The advocates would monitor cases, attend hearings and review records relating to the animals' condition and the defendants' actions. They'd also present information and recommendations to the court.

“Far too many animal cruelty cases in New Jersey and across the country end without trial or conviction," Quijano told Insider New JerseyThese are pets who’ve faced unthinkable abuse, and yet don’t receive the justice they deserve.” 

Animal Abuse Is Often Just The Beginning

As Quijano sees it, there's another reason why abused cats and dogs should get their own lawyers. People who abuse animals often go on to harm people.

Here are some numbers from the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

  • A 2017 study showed that 89 percent of women who had companion animals during an abusive relationship reported that their animals were threatened, harmed, or killed by their abusive partner.
  • A 1997 study by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Northeastern University found that animal abusers are five times as likely to also harm other humans.
  • A study, published in 2013, found that 43 percent of people who commit school massacres also committed acts of cruelty to animals, usually against cats and dogs.
"Both because animals themselves need protection, and because of the link between cruelty to animals and cruelty to humans, violence against animals must be taken seriously under the law," the Legal Defense Fund says.

Will Abused Cats And Dogs Get Their Own Lawyers?

"By protecting our animal friends, we can ensure greater protection for New Jersey residents,” Quijano told Insider New Jersey. “The first step is to have someone advocating for their best interests during the legal process.” 

She introduced her bill earlier this month. If it passes, it will take effect immediately. 

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