Governor M. Jodi Rell has signed legislation that modernizes state law concerning the seizure and custody of neglected or cruelly treated animals. An Act Concerning Seizure and Custody of Neglected or Cruelly Treated Animals takes effect October 1.

“If a neglected or cruelly treated animal faces imminent harm, this law allows a state or local animal control officer to take custody of that animal without a warrant,” Governor Rell said. “Time is of the essence in many cases of animal abuse, and we are giving animal control officers the tools to take quick and decisive action.”

Under current law, an animal control officer may lawfully take charge of any animal found neglected or cruelly treated, but under current practice must obtain a criminal search and seizure warrant to do so. The animal control officer would be required to get the warrant within 96 hours, and the owner of the animal would be allowed to have a hearing no greater than 14 days from the time of the seizure of the animal.

At a June ceremony at the Connecticut Humane Society in Newington, Governor M. Jodi Rell signed another pet protection bill, An Act Concerning the Protection of Pets in Domestic Violence Cases. The new law, effective October 1, permits courts to issue orders of protection for animals owned or kept by victims of family violence, stalking, or harassment. The Governor noted that one way to further traumatize the human target of domestic violence is to injure or kill that person’s beloved pet. Under current law, protective orders only cover the victim. By harming or threatening to harm a pet that is cherished by the victim, an abuser can still hurt a victim without technically violating an order of protection. “By protecting pets, the new law shuts the door on any opportunities for abusers to continue to abuse their victims,” Governor Rell said. “Victim of domestic violence should not be subject to this further intimidation and cruelty if a pet becomes a target.”

In May, Governor Rell signed a bill requiring officials to include animals in emergency and disaster response plans. “If you’re forced to evacuate your home your pet will be able to go with you,” Governor Rell said. “This legislation is an answer to what happened during Hurricane Katrina when many people had to leave their pets behind.”

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