The Assembly Committee on Public Safety unanimously passed Senate Bill 1024, the Animal Cruelty & Violence Intervention Act of 2018, introduced by Senator Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, to change the way California handles animal abuse offenders, Wilk announced Wednesday.
“Animal abuse crimes should be treated seriously because they are serious,” said Wilk, himself the parent of a rescue dog. “Our animal friends need and deserve our protection, but this bill isn’t just about them. It’s also about our mothers and daughters, our friends and neighbors, our children and grandchildren; it’s about all of us.”
Wilk went on to cite statistics that show in some cases 71 percent of domestic violence offenders also abused animals at some point and that 70 percent of the most violent prisoners in a study of federal prisons had serious animal abuse in their histories.
“There’s no denying the existence of a problem here and it has become ever more apparent that our current mechanisms for identifying and addressing these offenders is neither restorative nor rehabilitative in any meaningful way,” Wilk said.
“Animal abuse is often the first act of violence committed by a troubled individual and it is typical that the family pet be the target of violence before the wife, the kids, and the community. For that reason it is imperative that we do something to intervene at that early stage before the victim count rises.”
The bill will require offenders convicted under animal abuse crimes to undergo mandatory mental health assessments and, if deemed beneficial by the assessing mental health professional, to seek ongoing counseling.
The bill is supported by legislative, animal rights and law enforcement leaders including the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Humane Society and the California Police Chiefs Association.
Senate Bill 1024 will next be heard in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.