With thanks to the National Link Coalition‘s newsletter, I present a selection of legislation that animal advocates may want to be following. The legislation summaries are courtesy of the National Link Coalition, an organization which works to stop violence against people and animals. The NLC’s goal is to stop the cycle of violence. I will be updating the bills’ statuses when necessary, and have provided further information, such as news articles and other links, when possible. This page will get updated as the year goes on. Please let me know if you notice anything that needs to be changed/updated.
I have focused on legislation from New Mexico, Rhode Island, and New York, as I have a personal connection to those states.
For a fuller look at legislation relating to animal abuse and its link to other crimes, please visit the National Link Coalition and sign up for their free newsletter.
New Mexico HB 52 would define an act of animal abuse intended to coerce, control or
intimidate a domestic violence victim as an act of domestic violence as well as animal cruelty. UPDATE 3/6: According to The Alibi: “The Harm to Animals as Domestic Abuse, HB 52, passed through the lower chamber of the N.M. Legislature at the end of January on a vote of 50 to 13. The legislation which seeks to define animal abuse using human standards, and in effect legally adjudge companion animals to be sentient, with rights, was sent to the Senate Public Affairs Committee a couple of weeks ago.”
New York A 588 would create a felony-level crime of animal cruelty to companion animals that is intended to threaten, intimidate or harass a family or household member, with additional penalties if the act is committed in the presence of a minor child. The bill is in the Assembly Codes Committee.
New York A 767 and S 1251 would amend the language of the state’s pet protection orders to allow the court to grant petitioners exclusive care, custody and control of animals kept by the petitioner, respondent or child, and to order the respondent to stay away from, take, transfer, conceal, harm, or dispose of the animal. The bills are in the Assembly Judiciary and Senate Children & Families Committees.
New York A 1097 would require courts to consider the best interest of companion animals in awarding their possession in a divorce or separation proceeding. The bill is in the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
New York A 831 would increase the penalty for aggravated cruelty to animals from two to four years when the crime is committed in the presence of a child. The bill is in the Assembly Agriculture Committee.
New York A 955 would make it a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine, to knowingly cause a minor child under age 16 to attend an animal fight. The bill is in the Assembly Agriculture Committee.
New York A 1211 would require all individuals responsible for enforcing animal cruelty laws to report suspected child abuse or maltreatment, and all persons required to report child abuse or maltreatment to report suspected animal abuse or maltreatment. The bill is in the Assembly Committee on Children and Families. See Senate version here.
New York A 1153 would prohibit a person 62 years of age or older from being denied residential occupancy or being evicted solely because the person keeps a common household pet. Property owners could establish reasonable rules for the care and handling of such pets. The bill is in the Assembly Housing Committee.
New York A 261 would create the crime of companion animal hoarding, defined as keeping more than 25 companion animals in conditions likely to jeopardize the health and well being of the animals and people living in the household. Offenders would be required to undergo mental health evaluation and may have to complete treatment and counseling. The bill is in the Assembly Agriculture Committee.
New York A 1069 would add a conviction for felony animal abuse for aggravated animal cruelty, animal fighting, poisoning, or injuring a service animal or racing animal, to the definition of a “serious offense” which would affect the ability of someone to possess a firearm. The bill is in the Assembly Codes Committee.
New York A 1834 and S 186 (“Kirby and Quigley’s Law”) would expand the definition of
aggravated cruelty to animals to include harm to a companion animal during the commission of a felony. UPDATE 3/6: The Assembly bill is in the Agriculture Committee. The Senate bill is in the Domestic Animal Welfare Committee.
New York A 984 and S 385 would require courts to impose mandatory psychiatric evaluation and treatment for juvenile and adult offenders convicted of aggravated cruelty to animals. S 384 would require juvenile offenders to undergo psychiatric evaluation and treatment where necessary. The bills are in the respective Assembly and Senate Domestic Animal Welfare Committee.
New York A 987 would prohibit a person convicted of “Buster’s Law” from having a companion animal unless authorized by court order after they complete appropriate psychiatric or psychological testing. The bill is in the Assembly Agriculture Committee.
New York A 1170 would require veterinarians who reasonably and in good faith suspect that a companion animal is the victim of cruelty, abuse or neglect to report the incident and disclose necessary records to law enforcement and humane investigators. Currently, N.Y. veterinarians are permitted to make such reports. Both the existing and proposed law accord veterinarians who report in good faith – a belief that such action is necessary to protect the health and welfare of the patient or the public – immunity from civil and criminal liability. The bill is in the Assembly Committee on Higher Education.
Rhode Island H 5023 would add a provision allowing courts to provide for the safety and welfare of all household animals and pets in protection orders for adult and child victims of domestic abuse and sexual exploitation. A related measure, H 5076, would allow courts to award custody of household pets and to impose enforcement remedies including a restraining order or other injunctive relief. The bills are in the House Judiciary Committee.
Rhode Island S 82 would amend §4-1-37 of the General Laws, which permits veterinarians, technicians, and animal shelter and kennel personnel to report suspected animal abuse, to mandate such reporting with immunity from lawsuits if made in good faith. The measure would also impose a $500 fine for failing to report. The bill is in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
For more animal abuse related legislation, please see the National Link Coalition’s newsletter.