The New York Courtroom Animal Advocate Program (CAAP) bill would provide for an advocate in criminal cases concerning the welfare or care of an animal. These court-appointed advocates —supervised law students or volunteer lawyers — may monitor the case, attend hearings, consult with individuals with information related to the well-being of the animal, review relevant records, and present information or recommendations to the court related to the animal’s best interest.
Far too frequently, the perpetrators of even the most egregious acts of animal cruelty are not held accountable. Considering the strong link between violence against animals and violence against humans, ignoring animal cruelty endangers animals and humans alike. Connecticut became the first state to enact a CAAP law, also known as Desmond’s Law, in 2016. Connecticut’s CAPP law gives abused animal a greater chance of receiving justice.
The reality is that prosecutors and law enforcement officials often lack the resources and expertise necessary to address crimes against animals. Considering these cases are oftentimes unusually complex — involving victims who can’t speak for themselves and complicated forensic issues — CAAP laws fill a gap in the justice system. The Animal Legal Defense Fund provides free legal assistance to advocates operating under a CAAP law, just as it does for prosecutors, law enforcement, judges, and veterinarians handling animal cruelty cases.
S.1659/A.111 was introduced by Senator Bailey and Assemblymember Rosenthal, and is co-sponsored by Senators Addabbo, Hoylman-Sigal, Krueger, and Stavisky, as well as Assemblymembers Thiele, Simon, Paulin, Burdick, Gonzalez-Rojas, Mitaynes, and Dinowitz.