A new proposal would call on Connecticut law students to advocate on behalf of abuse or neglected animals.
The proposal is called Desmond's Law, which is named after a New Haven dog that was starved, beaten and strangled by its owner.
"We recognize that animal cruelty is not only an act of violence, but it is a big red flag for future violent behavior particularly against children and domestic partners," State Rep. Diana Urban, D-43, said.
Under it, a judge would appoint either a law student or volunteer lawyer to gather more background on the animal and provide the court with details in the interest of the animal.
"I think that it’s a fantastic opportunity for law students to get more court experience, hands-on court experience and to be able to step into the court room [and say] these are the facts of the case," said Taylor Hanson, University of Connecticut School of Law.
The proposal is being considered by the Judiciary Committee.
"We would basically step in. We would be neutral fact finders so we would do research into what happened in the case and make sure all the parties are fully aware," Hanson said.
Republican State Senator John Kissel asked if this proposal would start as a pilot program or immediately go statewide.
"If it is statewide whose responsibility is it to say OK I have a potential animal cruelty case and you have to notify XYZ," Kissel said.
Urban said the Department of Agriculture, which handles animal control would keep a list of volunteers. A judge would then decide if a student were needed for such cases and have them called in.
Two other versions of the bill have been introduced in previous sessions, but neither have gone far. Urban said she is confident that that will change this time around.
"I think this has a good chance of passing, there is no cost," Urban said. "And it is bringing an additional resource to the courts.”
If enacted, it would take effect in October.
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