Since the year 2006, Connecticut saw 3,723 charges of animal abuse or cruelty which rolled through their court systems.
80% of all of these cases were dismissed or not prosecuted.
19% resulted in actual convictions and 1% resulted in the defendant being found not guilty.
However, the state now wants to see the number of cases that are prosecuted go up, because they believe these animals deserve justice. That’s precisely why they implemented a new animal advocate program that will give more animals a voice.
8 volunteers, 7 lawyers and one law professor along with her students, are now part of an experimental system which will allow prosecutors and defenders request an animal advocate for their cases. The clear hope is that the advocates will give animals a voice they wouldn’t otherwise have, and make animal cruelty charges more likely.
“Every state has the problem of overburdened courts that understandably prioritize human cases over animal cases in allocating resources,” stated University of Connecticut professor Jessica Rubin, a specialist in animal law. “Here’s a way to help.”
The volunteers are actually considered an official part of the investigation and are able to conduct interviews with witnesses or professionals who are relevant to the case. This may end up saving the prosecutors time and end up helping the case.
States all across the country are watching this Connecticut program to see if it will have positive results.
Jessica Rubin and her student Taylor Hansen were the very first to testify in court as advocates for three pit bulls that were thrown into a dog-fighting ring. The dogs were found emaciated with scars all over their bodies. One of the dogs had to be euthanized.
Hansen argued that the accused, named Raabbi Ismail, should not be allowed to participate in the Accelerated Rehabilitation program because of his horrific crimes. She then argued that if his record was ultimately wiped clean, there would be nothing to stop him from getting back into dog-fighting.
The judge listened to all of Hansen’s points, however, ultimately decided to allow Ismail to participate in Accelerated Rehabilitation. However, he did take all of her points into consideration and put conditions that will prevent him from owning, breeding, or having dogs in his home for the next two years. He will also be required to complete a total of 200 hours of community service.
“It showed the animals do have a voice,” Hansen said. “We are able to have an impact on the proceedings.”
“Just having the advocate in court represents a sea change in the handling of animal abuse cases,” stated Annie Hornish, the Connecticut director for the Humane Society of the United States. “We hope with this law in place, we will start to see much better procedural outcomes. We are very excited that judges seem to be taking advantage of it.”
So, what about YOU? Do you believe every state should have legal advocates for animals??