Senate passes Wilk animal abuser intervention measure

SACRAMENTO – Today, the California State Senate voted unanimously to approve Senate Bill 1024, the Animal Cruelty and Violence Intervention Act of 2018, authored by Senator Scott Wilk, R-Antelope Valley, sending the bill to the Assembly.

“I am extremely happy that the Senate saw the value in this important legislation today,” said Wilk. “Animal abuse is often the first act of violence committed by a troubled individual and it is typical that the family pet be the target of violence before the wife, the kids, and the community. For that reason it is imperative that we do something to intervene at that early stage before the victim count rises.”

Senate Bill 1024 will require offenders convicted under animal abuse crimes to undergo mandatory mental health assessments and, if deemed beneficial upon evaluation, to attend ongoing counseling. The bill also allows animal abuse offenders to be sentenced to an animal offender education course that will teach them proper techniques for interacting with animals in a positive way.

“This bill will not stop all domestic violence; it won’t bring an end to school shootings or serial murders. It won’t prevent all tragedies perpetrated by offenders who also abuse animals,” said Wilk. “But with SB 1024 we can begin to address underlying causes early and use our criminal justice system as an intervention point to lower the incidence of these horrible plagues on our society and our people.”

Wilk also cited studies showing that 90 percent of mass shooting suspects, half of all school shooters, and 71 percent of domestic violence offenders had serious animal abuse in their histories.

Senate Bill 1024 is supported by legislative, animal rights and law enforcement leaders including the Animal Legal Defense Fund and former Los Angeles County prosecutor in charge of animal crimes, Deborah Knaan whom along with Wilk are spearheading efforts to enact the legislation. Additional support has come from the California Police Chiefs Association, the Humane Society of the United States, Social Compassion in Legislation and at least a dozen additional animal rights and law enforcement organizations.

Senate Bill 1024 will next be heard in the Assembly Public Safety Committee next month.