Organizations team up to address judicial response to animal cruelty


The Animal Legal Defense Fund and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) are pleased to announce a new partnership to address judicial response in United States court cases related to animal cruelty.

Research shows that acts of cruelty against animals can be a sentinel indicator and often a predictor of other forms of family and community violence. Survivors of family violence are often left in a position of deciding whether to stay in an abusive and often dangerous situation or leave behind their beloved pets. Survivors know that leaving pets behind puts the animals at even greater risk of abuse once the human victim is gone. As of last year, 32 states, including D.C. and Puerto Rico, have enacted laws that include pets in domestic violence protection orders.

“The collaboration between the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges is the first of its kind,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “The Animal Legal Defense Fund is honored to be the first animal protection group to formally collaborate with a judicial organization, and we applaud NCJFCJ for being the first judges group to recognize the need to address animal cruelty in juvenile and family court cases.”

As part of this innovative collaboration, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and NCJFCJ will host a meeting with judicial officers who preside over juvenile and family court cases in order to identify the information that judges and courts need to better understand critical issues related to animal cruelty. The groups will then develop and disseminate a bench book to guide judges and other court personnel with juvenile and family court cases, including awareness of the link between the acts of violence towards humans and animal cruelty.

“There is an undeniable link between animal cruelty and family violence,” said Judge John J. Romero, Jr., NCJFCJ president. “This one-of-a-kind partnership with the Animal Legal Defense Fund will be an opportunity to educate our nation’s juvenile and family court judges on addressing and recognizing animal cruelty in order to help children, families, and pets who have experienced violence.”

Featured image: a gavel, book, and scale close up. Image credit SalFalko, CC BY-SA 3.0.

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The Animal Legal Defense Fund’s mission is to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. The Animal Legal Defense Fund accomplishes this mission by filing high-impact lawsuits to protect animals from harm, providing free legal assistance and training to prosecutors to assure that animal abusers are punished for their crimes, supporting tough animal protection legislation and fighting legislation harmful to animals, and providing resources and opportunities to law students and professionals to advance the emerging field of animal law. Click to see author's profile.

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