A bill that would require the cross reporting of cases of child abuse and animal cruelty passed the House of Representatives Wednesday with broad support on both sides of the aisle.
The measure, which passed 127 to 12, would require the Department of Agriculture, which handles cases of animal abuse, and the Department of Children and Families, which handles child abuse, to compare notes on violent incidents. Rep. Diana Urban, the bill’s proponent, said that communication will help the state curb domestic violence.
Under the bill, if an animal control officer files a petition to remove an animal from a home, that information will be forwarded to DCF, Urban said. The Children and Families Department will in turn forward its information on child abuse to the Agricultural Department and the theory is, if the same household shows up on both lists, there is probably something wrong, she said.
The bill is based on data showing that people who abuse animals as children frequently have a penchant for violence as adults, she said. The FBI has used animal abuse as an indicator of future violent behavior since 1971, she said.
To illustrate how the bill will help identify households with domestic violence problems, Urban told a story of a case in her district. She was contacted by a reporter who was covering an animal cruelty case involving a small dog with a lacerated liver.
When the reporter went to court looking for the police report on the incident, she was asked by the clerk if she wanted the report concerning the animal cruelty incident or the other two regarding domestic violence incidents at the same house, Urban said.
Both agencies are supportive of the measure and DCF Commissioner Joette Katz is working on putting together a protocol for the information sharing, Urban said.
The bill will now move to the Senate where Urban said it also has bipartisan support. Urban, who has been trying to get the measure adopted for years, seemed delighted.
“The time has finally come. That’s how I see it,” she said.