Wilk announces Animal Cruelty and Violence Intervention Act clears policy committee

SACRAMENTO –Senator Scott Wilk, representing the 21st Senate District, announced today that the Senate Committee on Public Safety unanimously approved Senate Bill 580 (SB 580), the Animal Cruelty and Violence Intervention Act of 2019. This bill implements new mandates for mental health evaluations, counseling and education for animal abuse offenders.

“SB 580 is about protecting our family members, friends, communities and pets from violent crime. Animal abusers have an ugly track record of moving from crimes against animals to acts of violence against people,” said Wilk. “SB 580 will begin to break that link by getting animal abusers the resources and help they need before their actions escalate.”

Wilk cited studies showing that half of all school shooters, 70 percent of our most violent prisoners and 71 percent of domestic violence offenders had serious animal abuse in their histories.

Senate Bill 580 will require the most serious offenders convicted under animal abuse crimes to undergo mental health assessments and, if deemed beneficial by a judge, to attend ongoing counseling. The bill also allows a judge to assign less serious offenders to an approved humane treatment education course to teach them proper techniques for interacting with animals in a positive way.

“I am thankful to my Senate colleagues for recognizing the importance of this issue and working with me to change to the way we deal with animal abuse offenders,” said Wilk. “SB 580 is a big step in the right direction to ensuring the safety and well-being of animals and people throughout California.”

Senate Bill 580 is supported by a broad coalition of animal rights and law enforcement leaders including the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the California Police Chiefs Association, the Humane Society of the United States, and Social Compassion in Legislation.

Senate Bill 1024 will go to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.