Protecting Abused Animals

August 31, 2017

Jessica Rubin, right, a professor of law at the University of Connecticut, spoke with a volunteer, John Frascatore, outside Superior Court in Manchester, Conn., where they appeared this month for a case about custody of two abused dogs. Credit Jessica Hill for The New York Times

I am very happy to tell you that the first major victory under Desmond’s law, An Act Concerning Support For Animals That Are Neglected Or Treated Cruelly, has been won in a Manchester Superior Court case involving animal cruelty.

Leading Desmond’s law to passage last year was a priority in my continued fight to address the link between animal cruelty and violent behavior especially child abuse and domestic violence.

I would like to thank Professor Jessica Rubin, who teaches law at the University of Connecticut Law School, for successfully arguing on behalf of the horribly mistreated dogs in the court case.

Professor Rubin argued against returning two dogs, including one that was pregnant, to a man who claimed to own them. She instead asked the court to have the dogs turned over to the town, which had rescue groups ready to take them. The dogs had been seized by animal control officers. Rubin said police found the dogs in filthy conditions with scars that looked like they had come from staged fights.

“Every day that passes continues the suffering of these dogs and makes it more unlikely they can have a normal life,” Rubin told the court.

Desmond’s law allows courts to assign volunteer legal advocates to assist in the prosecution of animal abuse cases. The bill has been named in honor of Desmond, a dog that was beaten, starved, strangled and ultimately killed by its owner, who then received accelerated rehabilitation.

Passing the law – the first of its kind in the country – was an important step in ending animal abuse but our work must continue.

Research has shown that there is a clear link between animal abuse and violence against humans. Abusing animals is a strong predictor for future violence against people and especially domestic abuse.

Recognizing the seriousness of animal abuse and how it can lead to more violent behavior against people, the FBI has created a separate, special category for the collection of statistics on animal abuse.

It is gratifying to see that Connecticut is leading the way in the fight against animal abuse and exploring the relationship between animal abuse and domestic abuse.

I’m especially proud of the efforts of Desmond’s Army, the group of advocates whose hard work contributed to enactment of Desmond’s law and whose continued work on every court case is essential to our success. Many of these advocates are UConn law students and pro bono lawyers who are donating their time. As a result, we are providing additional resources to the courts and giving law students valuable courtroom experience – all at no additional costs to taxpayers.

For more on Desmond’s and the Manchester court case, read this New York Times news article.