Senate Bill 159, introduced by Sen. Timothy Lanane (D-Anderson), would require a court to consider counseling as part of the sentence imposed on a person convicted of animal cruelty; it also permits a court to order the person to receive counseling. It acknowledges the correlation between animal cruelty and domestic violence. "We'd certainly like the ability to more formally request counseling at the time of sentencing," Jeff Bennett, administrator of Indianapolis Animal Care and Control, said.
"Jail time and fines should be tools, but our toolbox needs to be bigger and more creative. Many times, there are social and psychological needs going unmet. Hoarders [people who collect animals], for example, often believe they're doing the right thing when in fact they're not providing an acceptable level of care."
SB 159 has received two committee hearings this session. Rehabilitating is an important first step toward thwarting violent behavior upon people by those who abuse animals.
Bennett added, "We've even suggested that offenders be required to spend time as a volunteer, under supervision, at the city's animal shelter. This would give us a chance to show the impact animal cruelty has on our day-to-day operation and on the community as a whole."
Maleah Stringer, founder of the Animal Protection League in Madison County, who's been very instrumental in supporting this bill, said of its impact, "Implementing this bill will send up a red flag regarding domestic violence and violent crime ... think about how many lives could've been saved - how many women, children and animals wouldn't have been battered if the crime of animal abuse had been taken seriously."