Give Animal Abuse Victims a Legal Voice

Target: Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Senator

Goal: Support expanded roles for animal welfare special advocates in courtrooms.

When Desmond, a Connecticut shelter dog, was allegedly beaten, strangled, and starved to death, his tragic case inspired a movement that transformed the state’s animal cruelty laws. Before Desmond, a mere 20 percent of cruelty cases did not result in dismissal or slap-on-the-wrist probation. Desmond’s accused abuser was even able to have criminal records wiped clean following a probationary sentence. Public outcry after the tragedy compelled the creation of Desmond’s Law, which among other objectives created special advocates for reported victims in animal cruelty cases.

While the law was a major step forward for animal rights, it did and does contain some critical deficiencies. For one, the law only covered cases involving dogs and cats. This oversight left out many victims, including several horses that were allegedly abused by a trainer. In addition, unlike children who are appointed special advocates in suspected child abuses cases, the animals at the center of cases are not directly represented by the advocate. Instead, the advocate is working toward a vague legal term called “the interests of justice.”

Animal advocacy can play a vital role in the legal system, but it needs a comprehensive and strong framework. Sign the petition below to urge the creation of a robust animal advocacy law at the national level.


Dear Senator Blumenthal,

Court-appointed special advocates have helped secure justice in child abuse cases by giving the most innocent and powerless victims a legal voice. Another population of voiceless and vulnerable survivors could benefit from similar steadfast advocacy. Connecticut set an important precedent when it became the first state in the country to enact a law creating legal advocates for abused animals.

Desmond’s Law has helped strengthen the state’s previously lax animal cruelty statutes and will hopefully help curb these vicious crimes that are often stepping-stones to violence against human beings. As one of the Senate’s top animal welfare proponents, please familiarize yourself with this law, take note of avenues for improvement (such as expanding the scope of covered animals), and work for a federal statute that could take legal animal advocacy nationwide.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: George Donnelly

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