IL Joins States Requiring Cross-Reporting of Child Abuse and Animal Cruelty

August 14, 2009 /  Animal Law Coalition

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed HB 562 into law today.

This bill requires animal control and  humane officers and Department of Agriculture investigators to make a police report when they have a reasonable belief child abuse is occurring.

Likewise, investigation specialists, intact family specialists and placement specialists for the Department of Children and Family Services are required to report animal abuse.  

There is a well-documented link between animal abusers and those who commit other acts of violence especially domestic violence. 

In one study 71% of women in a battered women's shelter reported their abuser either abused a household pet or threatened to abuse a pet. (Ascione, 1998)  

In another study 88% of child abusers also abused the animals in the home. (Ascione) 

In a study by Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell, Public Health Department, the Johns Hopkins University from 1994 to 2000 in eleven USA metropolitan cities, pet abuse was one of the four significant predictors for determining who was at highest risk for becoming a batterer. Many abused spouses delay leaving out of fear for their pets' safety and because they have nowhere to take them.

If abuse is occurring to a spouse or children, it is probably happening to the animals in the home as well, and vice-versa. It makes sense for agencies responsible for investigating and prosecuting these crimes to work together and share information. 

Tennessee has a similar cross-reporting law, but it is broader by requiring "[a]ny state, county or municipal employee of a child or adult protective services agency, while acting in a professional capacity or within the scope of employment, who has knowledge of or observes an animal that the person knows or reasonably suspects has been the victim of cruelty, abuse, or neglect, shall report the known or reasonably suspected animal cruelty, abuse, or neglect". Tenn. Code § 38-1-402, 403  

California also has a cross-reporting law. Cal Pen Code §§ 11166, 11199 as do Washington D.C.,  D.C. Code §§ 4-1321.02, 22-1002.01; Louisiana, La. R.S. 14:403.6; Massachusetts, ALM GL ch. 119, § 85; Nebraska, R.R.S. Neb. §§ 28-711, 28-1017, and Maine, 22 M.R.S. §§4008, 4011-A, 34-B M.R.S. § 1901 (cross-reporting extends to suspected abuse or neglect of dependent adults as well. 22 M.R.S. § 3477) 

West Virginia law, W. Va. Code §§7-10-2, 9-6-9a, 48-27-702, 49-6A-2b, requires animal control or humane officers to report suspected domestic violence. Law enforcement and child and adult protective services workers are required to report suspected animal cruelty.

Colorado, C.R.S. 19-3-304, Virginia, Va. Code § 63.2-1509  and Ohio, ORC  §§ 1717.14, 2151.421 laws require animal control or humane officers to report suspected child abuse. Also, in Ohio a Public Child Services Agency is required to keep record of any animal cruelty committed by a child and share that information. OAC Ann. 5101:2-42-90  

In Oregon a new law requires animal control officers to report suspected abuse of mentally ill or developmentally disabled persons. ORS § 430.735 et seq.

Also, in several counties and cities law enforcement, child protective services and animal control work together to help each other identify situations where both children and animals may be at risk from domestic violence.

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