Abused children have long had court-appointed advocates to speak for them in court in order to articulate the pain, neglect, cruelty and deprivation they have suffered. Now abused and neglected animals could have the same under a Bill introduced on February 21, 2013, by Connecticut State Legislator Diana Urban.
In addition to providing a judge or jury information to make a truly informed decision on a case already in court, the author says it could also help identify those abusers whose behavior could be expected to possibly escalate to increased violence against animals or extend to humans.
“An Act Concerning Animal Advocates in Court Proceedings,” HB 6310, would permit a veterinarian with the Department of Agriculture to be appointed as an advocate for an animal whose welfare or custody is the subject of either a civil or criminal court proceeding, reports NBC News.
Rep. Urban (D-North Stonington) explained on Thursday, "HB 6310 would give the option for an advocate in court for an egregiously injured animal. This would enable the animal's injury to be identified as a red flag for future violent behavior.”
“We are putting together a public/private partnership with the state Department of Agriculture and nonprofit rescue groups including Connecticut Votes for Animals to be available to speak for the animals in court," she added.
The Bill was a response to an incident which occurred in January, when a North Stonington high school student, Asa Parlmer, discovered two of the cows on his family farm shot in the face. One suffered such grotesque injuries that it had to be euthanized. Two men have been charged with shooting the cows.
"If this [law] was in place today, Asa Palmer could request an advocate for his young cow, 'Angel,' who was shot in the face and left with her jaw hanging off," Urban said.
The bill is awaiting action in the legislature's Judiciary Committee and has the support of other lawmakers, according to NBC News. However, it has not yet been scheduled for hearing.
"Much like our children who cannot advocate on behalf of themselves, innocent animals that are abused or worse, killed, deserve that same right," Rep. Brenda Kupchick, a Republican from Fairfield, Conn. told reporters. "Violence of any type is unacceptable and we must do whatever we can to give a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves."
Opinions on this proposal have ranged from “It’s about time!” to “This could open the door for animals to bring lawsuits against their owners through advocates." What do you think?
Source: (NBC News)