California Senator Addresses Link Between Animal Abuse and Domestic Violence With New Bill

The link between animal abuse and human violence has been well-documented, but sometimes it’s hard for lawmakers connect the dots when it comes to interrupting this terrible cycle. One California Republican, State Senator Scott Wilk, aims to bridge that gap with a newly-introduced bill designed to disrupt escalating patterns of violence that often start with animals.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, animal abuse and neglect can be a warning sign and predicting factor for domestic violence  and other forms of abuse. And children who grow up in households where nonhuman animals are abused may experience lasting psychological harm — including, for some, a tendency to hurt animals as they grow older.

In recent years, many states have begun to recognize this issue and enact legislation that cracks down on animal abuse. California is already among the “best five states for animals,” according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

But Senator Wilk thinks California can do better.

His bill, the Animal Welfare and Violence Intervention Act of 2018, would require people convicted of animal abuse to undergo an educational course in interacting with animals responsibly and respectfully. In addition, serious offenders would be required to undergo mental health screening. If deemed necessary, they would also be subject to mandatory counseling.

The goal of this legislation is to identify and intervene in cases where violence could escalate — with the hope that screening and counseling will stop people before they become more violent.

California already allows authorities to seize animals upon conviction and restrict guardianship opportunities for animal abusers. The state also requires counseling for people granted probation, but this law makes counseling contingent on conviction, and expands both the definition and scope of settings where counseling is required.

The next step for this bill will be a committee hearing to determine if it should be heard on the floor. Committees in the Senate and Assembly make this determination independently — and the Senate version currently lies with the Committee on Public Safety. Once brought to the floor for a vote, both houses will need to approve it. Animal Legal Defense Fund helped to draft and promote the legislation, which it hopes can serve as a model for other states.

If you live in California, you can contact your assemblyperson and senator and ask them to support this legislation — especially if your senator happens to sit on the Public Safety Committee. Bills like this one can die on the vine without pressure from constituents calling for action.

If you’re not in California, you can still join Care2 activists in letting the state know that you want to see steps taken to protect animals. You can also push legislators in your home state to consider adopting similar legislation to mandate counseling and treatment for people convicted of animal abuse.

Take Action!

Join Care2 activists in telling the California legislature to break the cycle of violence by supporting Wilk’s bill.

And if there’s an issue that deeply troubles you, consider creating your own petition. Care2 has put together some guidelines to help you get started. Then you can click here to create a petition.


Photo credit: Shawn Perez


Marie W
Marie W5 months ago

Thank you

Ruth S
Ruth S11 months ago


Chrissie R
Chrissie R11 months ago

The link between animal and human abuses was made long ago with the MacDonald triad...and is largely ignored.

Renata B
Renata B11 months ago

At last! Animal abuse is always the training to human abuse, whether domestic or not. Abuse is abuse, violence is violence. The victim can change very easily because it is not important to the perpetrator.

William C
William C11 months ago


W. C
W. C11 months ago

Thank you for caring.

Filomena C
Filomena C11 months ago


Filomena C
Filomena C11 months ago

Petition signed!

Sharon R
Past Member 11 months ago

Signed petition. Thank you.

Diane P
Diane P11 months ago