Finally Just Sanctions CONSIDERED for Animal Abuse
News from Feminist Law Professors:
Money Talks When Animals and (Some) People Cannot
March 19th, 2010
The New York Times reported earlier this week (here) on state legislation under consideration in three jurisdictions. The proposed laws would allow courts to prohibit animal abusers from having pets in the future. According to the NYT, 27 states now have similar laws.
Animal lawyers and law scholars long have acknowledged the connection between animal abuse and violence against women. For recent scholarship, see, e.g., Caroline Anne Forell, Using a Jury of Her Peers to Teach About the Connection between Domestic Violence and Animal Abuse, 15 Animal L. Rev. 53 (2008).
Professor Ascione, who also advises law enforcement officials in abuse cases, said that cross-reporting requirements helped foster earlyThe NYT article leads with a statement claiming that proposed legislation is “[r]esponding to growing evidence that people who abuse animals often go on to attack humans.” But the article makes more of the cost to state and local governments of caring for abused animals that are rescued. The article cites $1.2 million in expenses by Franklin County, Ohio officials caring for 170 rescued dogs. A Michigan county paid $37,000 in clean-up costs when dead animals were found in a hoarders home.
In several recent cases, he said, children hinted atanimal abuse to teachers who alerted animal protection agencies. Those workers spotted warning signs of other types of abuse, and child welfare workers intervened only to find that the children themselves were being abused. “Often children are not willing to talk about what is happening to them, but they will talk about their concerns about what they are seeing done to their pets,” Professor Ascione said.
This leaves one with the impression that the least vulnerable among us get legal protection only when its absence becomes too expensive for the state. A society or government that listens only when money talks does not adequately respond to those with the greatest needs.
(cross-post from Animal Blawg)
Posted in Feminism and Animal Law
More than 30 states now have laws that shift the financial burden of caring for abused or neglected animals from taxpayers to the defendants. The same number of states now authorize veterinarians to report suspected animal abuse.
And in the last three years, Arkansas, Illinois, Oregon and Washington,D.C., have enacted laws that require or authorize child or spousal abuse investigators and animal control officers to inform each other when they find something potentially amiss in a home. Eight states now have such laws.
Law enforcement officials often do not pursue charges against animal abusers because of limited resources, opting instead for noncriminal remediation that results in animals remaining in the custody of their abusers.
“In addition to protecting animals from suffering during a lengthy legal process, we used to have to worry about not bankrupting our county while caring for hundreds of animals for an extended period,” said William Lamberth, a prosecutor in Sumner County, Tenn., where the state legislature passed a law in 2007 giving courts the ability to require that those charged with animal abuse pay for care for their impounded animals or lose ownership.
He added that the new law had already saved his county tens of thousands of dollars.
States are also pushing for improved tracking of offenders.
Tender thanks to Song for this video.