Animals may not have a voice or a vote, but they could soon have attorneys.
According to PIX11, a new bill proposed in New Jersey by State Assemblywoman Annette Quijano aims to offer abused animals legal representation.
If the bill passes, attorneys and law students would have the opportunity to represent an animal in New Jersey’s courts through pro bono work. Those who volunteered would be able to monitor the animal’s case, represent the animal’s best interests in court and review records related to the case.
“Many animal cruelty cases in New Jersey and across the country end without a trial or a conviction. These pets are facing unthinkable abuse and they need to have an advocate in their corner,” Quijano told WPG Talk Radio.
The assemblywoman added that the passing of this bill could lead to harsher sentences for animal abusers, bringing justice to the creatures they hurt.
Right now, the bill has been introduced, but has not yet been reviewed, reports WPG Talk Radio.
This new bill is not the first of its kind: the proposal was inspired by “Desmond’s Law” in Connecticut, which passed the state’s legislature in 2016. Under this law, which was named for a dog who was strangled, starved and killed by his owner (who received no jail time for the abuse), volunteer advocates can “access facts, records and other information regarding the animal, readily share information with each party, and make recommendations to the court,” according Connecticut Votes for Animals.
The law only applies to cases involving dogs and/or cats.