Historic News! Connecticut Gives Abused & Neglected Animals A Voice In Court!

Hartford Courant – (L-R University of Connecticut law students Julie Shamailova, Taylor Hansen, and University of Connecticut law professor and animal law expert Jessica Rubin)

The rights of children are legally fought for by court appointed legal advocates, and now in one state, similar representation will be granted to abused and neglected animals.

A vanguard new law was recently passed in Connecticut that allows judges to appoint official legal advocates for animals in abuse cases.

University of Connecticut law professor and animal law expert Jessica Rubin, one of eight people in the state that are now approved as legal advocates for animals, explained to the Associated Press that while it is understandable to prioritize and allocate resources to human cases over animal cases in an overburdened court system, there are ways to help.

She and the other seven advocates are all volunteers who now make themselves available to be the voice for the voiceless by interviewing witnesses and experts, writing briefs and making well-researched and much-needed recommendations to judges.

While the law was passed six months ago, and judges have already appointed animal advocates in five cases, last week was historic, as it marked the first time that an advocate testified in court.

A third year University of Connecticut law student, Taylor Hansen, who is contemplating a career in animal law, had the honors as she argued on behalf of three pit bulls involved in a dogfighting case. Two of the dogs are reported to be with adoptive families while the third sadly had to be euthanized.

An article by the Hartford Courant, in April explained that the new legislation is named “Desmond’s Law” in memory of a dog named Desmond who was beaten, starved and strangled to death in 2012.

“It’s a great way to explore our interests to make a difference, and also make ourselves better practicing attorneys in the future,” Hansen said in the article.” We don’t want to see animal abuse happen, of course, but if it does happen, then we want to have the opportunity to have a voice in court and make recommendations about the disposition.

Rubin went on to say that Desmond’s Law is the first of its kind in the United States.

While Connecticut is the first state to enact a law of this kind, animal rights is gradually being recognized as a serious issue. In fact, last year the FBI began tracking data on animal cruelty crimes similar to how it does for homicide, arson, and assault.

According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the number schools in the United States that offer animal law classes has grown from a mere 9 law schools in 2000, to 151 in 2015.

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