There is so much noise and negativity in the world and in the news today that sometimes some good news and trends get lost in the shuffle. So we want to highlight some positive news that affects animals because we know how many have fought for these rights over the years and we celebrate their success in making these laws possible.
Back in January, Alaska became the first state to consider the welfare of the animal in divorce cases. Through an amendment to Alaska’s divorce statutes, Alaska is the first state in the country to require courts to take “into consideration the well-being of the animal” and to explicitly empower judges to assign joint custody of pets.
Now, a new law in Connecticut makes it the first state to provide animals with court-appointed advocates to represent them in abuse and cruelty cases. These animal advocates operate similar to victim’s or children’s advocates in those types of cases and the advocates get involved in investigations, interviewing witnesses and serving as the legal advocate on behalf of the animals. They act as volunteers and judges have some discretion on whether to appoint an advocate though the defense attorneys and prosecutors may request them.
There are multiple laws on the books in cities across the country that require pet stores to only source their animals from shelters, humane societies or animal rescue groups and California is on its way to pass a state-wide law requiring the same. Assembly Bill (AB) 485 by Assembly member Patrick O’Donnell (D – Long Beach) and Assembly member Matt Dababneh (D-Encino) passed the State Assembly and is onto the state senate and eventually the governor for signature. AB 485 requires all dogs, cats, and rabbits offered for retail sale in California pet stores to be obtained by an animal shelter or non-profit rescue organization. We applaud the bill’s sponsor, Social Compassion In Legislation (SCIL), which is a leading nonprofit organization focused on the welfare, protection, and rights of animals. SCIL was instrumental in the successful passage of a similar ordinance in the City of Los Angeles in 2012.
As animal lovers, advocates and professionals ourselves we are motivated and excited to be seeing these legal changes coming to states in the U.S. We know there is a long way to go but applaud and celebrate those that made these possible.