The California Senate Committee on Public Safety voted 4-1 Tuesday to approve Senate Bill 1024, the Animal Cruelty and Violence Intervention Act of 2018, introduced by Senator Scott Wilk, R-Antelope Valley, as a way to address the undeniable link between animal abuse and violence toward humans.
“I am extremely pleased with the committee’s decision today as it represents a big step in the right direction to 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 said.
Wilk went on to cite studies showing that 71 percent of domestic violence offenders also abused animals at some point and that more than 70 percent of the most violent prison inmates had serious animal abuse in their histories.
“We’ve read the data, we’ve seen the proof in our domestic violence shelters, our schools and on the nightly news,” Wilk said. “We know the link between animal violence and future violence towards humans is strong but it isn’t unbreakable. The Animal Cruelty and Violence Intervention Act will be the first tool we have to help us weaken and ultimately break that link.”
Senate Bill 1024 will require offenders convicted of animal abuse crimes to undergo mandatory mental health assessments and, if deemed beneficial upon evaluation, to attend ongoing counseling.
The bill would also require offenders to enroll in an animal offender education course that would 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, who along with Wilk is spearheading efforts to enact the legislation.
Additional support has come from the California Police Chiefs Association, the Humane Society of the United States and at least a dozen additional animal rights and law enforcement organizations.
Senate Bill 1024 will now head to the Senate Committee on Appropriations, where it will be heard in May before going to the Senate Floor for a full vote of the house.