States Look at Stricter Animal Cruelty Laws

Article excerpt

If a disturbed child tortures the family puppy--how large is the step to assaulting human beings?

Studies have found that cruelty to animals can be one of the earliest and most significant signs of a person's potential to harm others. And states are trying to prevent such violence quickly with early intervention.

A recent Nevada law requires the juvenile court to order counseling or other psycho logical treatment for a child who commits an offense involving cruelty to an animal. Parents or guardians are required to pay for it.

And at least 13 other states--California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Virginia, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia--allow courts to order psychiatric counseling or anger management training for both children and adult offenders.

Animal abuse can also be a sign of child abuse. In an interesting twist, some animal cruelty agencies also protect children. A District of Columbia law authorizes the Washington Humane Society to include protection of children from cruelty and abuse. Officers or agents of the Ohio Humane Society may remove a child if he or she is in "cruel surroundings." California and Colorado require animal control officers and veterinarians to report suspected or known instances of child abuse.

Minnesota and West Virginia are trying to get to the source by requiring veterinarians to report suspected or known cases of animal abuse. …