An abused pit-bull found in a garbage chute in Newark on St. Patrick's Day has won international notoriety calling attention to animal cruelty in New Jersey and throughout the United States.
Patrick's case has inspired animal rights activists to call for tougher penalties for animal abusers.
On May 6, Patrick's abuser pleaded not guilty in court. Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the court on Patrick's behalf, attracting media attention.
Unfortunately the bill approved the day before his appearance didn't get as much press. According to Patch.com the New Jersey Assembly's Judiciary Committee approved a bill which allows courts to include violence against animals with domestic violence.
The new legislation is similar to that which was recently passed in Maine. It was sponsored by Connie Wagner (D-Bergen), deputy speaker of the assembly and Assemblywoman Charlotte Vandervalk (R-Bergen).
The Humane Society of the US (HSUS) applauded the bill. NJ state director of HSUS Kathleen Schatzmann said that this bill is really "voting to protect all survivors of domestic abuse."
She was referring to the fact that studies show violent abusers in domestic violence cases often target the household animals in a bid to maintain control of their victims.
Her statement said "Permitting judges to prohibit abusers from contact with animals, protects those animals and provides peace of mind to human survivors of domestic violence since abusers often threaten, injure or kill family pets."
Wagner said "We’ve heard so many stories of pets being abused or even killed as retaliation against a partner when a relationship goes sour…Oftentimes, it’s done without thinking of an attempt to hurt the other partner, but whether it’s intentional or not, animals should not have to suffer.”
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