Animal rights always need to be defended. The poor innocent creatures can't fend for themselves, so it's up to us to make sure they have the care and love they deserve. Recently, more and more legislation has been put in place to not only protect the animals, but also punish those who hurt them.
A number of United States jurisdictions implemented an animal offenders registry, which publicly reveals the names of known animal abusers in the area, similar to how sex offenders are registered. Currently, Tennessee is the only state to have an animal offenders registry, but other cities like New York and Cook County, Illinois have them at a local level.
In addition, Connecticut introduced a new animal advocacy program.
Eight volunteers, seven lawyers and one law professor along with her students, are part of an experimental system that will allow prosecutors and defenders to request an animal advocate for their cases. The hope is that the advocates will give animals a voice they wouldn't otherwise have, and make animal cruelty charges more likely.
"Every state has the problem of overburdened courts that understandably prioritize human cases over animal cases in allocating resources," said University of Connecticut professor Jessica Rubin, a specialist in animal law. "Here's a way to help."
The volunteers are considered an official part of the investigation and are able to conduct interviews with witnesses or professionals who are relevant to the case. This can save the prosecutor's time and end up helping the case.
But now, people are signing a petition to allow a crucial financial service to extend to pets, and it's a little controversial.
A petition started by a concerned citizen is asking that SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Plan) be extended to pet food. The program helps lower-income families provide food for the household, and is the most wide-reaching program in the domestic hunger safety net.
However, there are limitations to what can be purchased with SNAP. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, this includes any nonfood items, such as:
- pet foods
- soaps, paper products
- household supplies
- Vitamins and medicines
- Food that will be eaten in the store
- Hot foods
- Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco
Edward Johnston Jr., who started the petition, says there's no reason pet food shouldn't be included.
"I have only been on SNAP benefits for a few months, but I have been unable to feed my little dog due to government regulations," he wrote. "Some argue that people should not keep pets if they cannot afford them, but the fact is that an individual or family's financial status can change at any time. Should someone be forced to give up a pet they've had for years just because they hit a financial rough patch? Or should they be able to utilize federal aid to continue feeding their pet? Pets are also important for emotional support. Being poor is hard enough without being expected to give up your companion. For most people, pets are considered family, not property."
Over 100,000 people have signed Johnston's petition, saying pets are considered family.
"Pets of low income families deserve to benefit in order to live happily and safely in the homes they belong in," said one anonymous petition signer.
"Families need help to feed ALL family members which all of their fur babies are to them!!!!!" wrote Maria P.
"[P]ets are a big part of families [whether] it is low income or not and its just the low income may love there pets but always can't afford to feed them the way they should be fed. I know it is this way for me I would love to have this for my animals." Christy J. agreed.
However, not everyone agrees.
"If you can't afford to feed yourself, maybe you shouldn't have a pet," Gary Krausmann commented on one news article.
"I am sorry but if you can not afford to feed yourself and your children you have no business having pets," Brenda Turner echoed. "Pets are a luxury who cost more than just food. They need vaccines and vet care when they are sick or injured."