Connecticut animal rights activists have been joined by advocates for domestic violence victims in their ongoing effort to stop animal abuse. Together, the two groups have created a buzz of activity in the state legislature, reflecting the volumes of research and data demonstrating those who commit violence against animals are likely to harm humans, too.
The animal welfare task force has re-introduced a proposal, in the 2016 legislature, for a public online animal abuse registry. Those convicted of the crime would be placed on the list and remain for five years. Agencies and businesses involved in selling or transferring animals, such as shelters or pet stores, would be required to check the registry before any transaction. (Tennessee became the first state in the U.S. to establish a state registry on January 1.)
The measure has garnered the vocal support of Karen Jamoc, president of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, who believes the registry can help in her group’s efforts. “We’re continuously viewing opportunities to be responsive in unique ways to keep victims safe. At the end of the day it’s a very very credible evidence-based link here.”
Jarmoc, in turn, is head of a task force that is studying the effects of domestic violence on children. Her group recently drafted a report that calls for more training on the link between animal cruelty and child abuse. Connecticut already allows cross-reporting of animal abuse and child abuse between the Department of Children and Families and animal control officers.
According to Jarmoc, domestic abusers often use threats to harm the family pet as a technique to prevent victims from leaving. Her coalition has an agreement with the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association to provide temporary shelter for pets when women flee to their shelter.
The childrens’ task force is also supporting another bill directed at animal abuse. That bill would create a special advocate in Connecticut courts to represent the interests of animals in abuse cases, providing information and records to the judge. The bill was introduced several years ago and, according to its author, is designed to address the very low conviction rate – 18% – in Connecticut animal abuse cases.