SACRAMENTO – The California Senate Committee on Appropriations voted unanimously Friday to approve Senate Bill 1024, the Animal Cruelty and Violence Intervention Act of 2018, introduced by Senator Scott Wilk, R-Antelope Valley.
The bill now heads to the Senate floor for a full vote next week.
“I am extremely pleased with the committee’s decision today and I am confident the full Senate will also see the value in this important legislation,” Wilk said. “This Act will ensure California’s criminal justice system is being adequately utilized as a mechanism of intervention and rehabilitation in the area of animal abuse offenders.”
Wilk also cited studies showing that 71 percent of domestic violence offenders abused animals at some point and that over 70 percent of the most violent prison inmates had serious animal abuse in their histories.
“SB 1024 will allow us to funnel the most serious animal abuse offenders in to mental health evaluations and treatments so that we can identify and address the underlying causes of their violent behavior,” Wilk said. “The Animal Cruelty and Violence Intervention Act will begin to weaken the link between animal cruelty and tragic acts of violence committed later by many of the same offenders down the road.”
Senate Bill 1024 will require offenders convicted under animal abuse crimes to undergo mandatory mental health assessments and, if deemed beneficial upon evaluation, to attend ongoing counseling.
The bill also allows animal abuse offenders to be sentenced to an animal offender education course that will teach them proper techniques for interacting with animals in a positive way.
The bill is supported by legislative, animal rights and law enforcement leaders including the Animal Legal Defense Fund and former Los Angeles County prosecutor in charge of animal crimes, Deborah Knaan whom along with Wilk are spearheading efforts to enact the legislation.
Additional support has come from the California Police Chiefs Association, the Humane Society of the United States, Social Compassion in Legislation and at least a dozen additional animal rights and law enforcement organizations.
Due to upcoming legislative deadlines Senate Bill 1024 must be brought up for a vote of the Senate no later than June 1.