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Press Release

Animal Legal Defense Fund Partners with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges to Address Judicial Response to Animal Cruelty

Contact: Natalia Lima,, 201 679 7088

Cotati, Calif. – The Animal Legal Defense Fund and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) are pleased to announce a new partnership to address judicial response in court cases related to animal cruelty.

Research shows acts of cruelty against animals can be a sentinel indicator and often a predictor of other forms of family and community violence. Survivors of family violence are often left in a position of deciding whether to stay in an abusive and often dangerous situation, or to go but leave behind their beloved pets. Survivors know that leaving them behind puts their pets at even greater risk of abuse once the victim is gone. As of last year, 32 states including D.C. and Puerto Rico have enacted laws that include pets in domestic violence protection orders.

“The collaboration between the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges is the first of its kind,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “The Animal Legal Defense Fund is honored to be the first animal protection group to formally collaborate with a judicial organization, and we applaud NCJFCJ for being the first judges group to recognize the need to address animal cruelty in juvenile and family court cases.”

As part of this innovative collaboration, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and NCJFCJ will host a convening with judicial officers who preside over juvenile and family court cases to identify information that judges and courts need to better understand critical issues related to animal cruelty. The groups will then develop and disseminate a bench book to guide judges and other court personnel with juvenile and family court cases, including awareness of the link between the acts of violence towards humans and animal cruelty.

“There is an undeniable link between animal cruelty and family violence,” said Judge John J. Romero, Jr., NCJFCJ president. “This one-of-a-kind partnership with the Animal Legal Defense Fund will be an opportunity to educate our nation’s juvenile and family court judges on addressing and recognizing animal cruelty in order to help children, families, and pets who have experienced violence.”