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3/8/2017 House panel hears Rep. Morgan's resolution on creating child abuse/animal abuse cross-reporting system
STATE HOUSE  —  On Tuesday, the House Committee on Judiciary held a hearing on House Resolution 5392, submitted by House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan (R-District 26 Coventry, Warwick, West Warwick).  The House Resolution requests that the state of Rhode Island adopt a mandatory child abuse/domestic violence and animal abuse cross reporting system.
Animal control and humane officers, who have first-hand knowledge of animal abuse, may also have knowledge of domestic violence.  Personnel with the Department of Children, Youth and Families, who have first-hand knowledge of domestic violence may also have knowledge of animal abuse.  Under House Resolution 5392, all child protection and domestic violence case workers must report suspected animal abuse to animal control / humane officer agencies and all animal control and humane officers must report suspected child abuse and/or domestic violence to Child Protection / Domestic Violence agencies. 
“Sadly for all, there is a high correlation between child and animal abuse. It’s common sense to link the two together, and it would cost very little to implement, yet yield such valuable information. Often, animal abuse is a stepping stone to child abuse and/or domestic violence.  Creating a cross-reporting system would supply critical information to law enforcement officials who are entrusted to protect our state’s children and animals from harm,” said Representative Morgan.
Many, supporting House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan’s Resolution showed up to testify at Tuesday’s hearing, including Kelly Riley, Legislative Director, RI Grange, who said, "Passing this resolution fosters communication to protect children and protect animals.  Margaret Mead, a leading anthropologist, noted the most dangerous things that can happen to a child is to abuse an animal and get away with it.  Our contacts in Connecticut are able to help Rhode Island engage this reporting.  Variations of this resolution have been stuck in committee for several years so we are asking that this committee, on the behalf of our children and animals, that this be moved forward.” 
According to the National Link Coalition, an organization that works to stop violence against people and animals, “Links between animal cruelty and interpersonal violence have been recognized throughout history.  Recently, extensive scholarly research has documented significant overlaps between child and animal maltreatment.  It is now widely recognized that the identification of animal abuse and neglect in a home may serve as a sentinel “red flag’ for the presence of child abuse, and vice versa.” 
The Ocean State Animal Coalition also supports House Resolution 5392.  Its Executive Director Liz Skrobisch stated in a letter, “There is a well-documented link between animal abusers and those who commit acts of domestic violence and child abuse.  Often, the Department of Children, Youth and Families may have critical information about animal abuse occurring in homes where other types of violence are present.  Passage of this bill will ensure that an animal cruelty investigator is informed of such situations and may act on behalf of animals in the home.” 
Dr. Ernie Finocchio, President of the RI SPCA said, “We need to stop the violence.  I encourage lawmakers and law enforcement officials to take these crimes seriously.  A cross reporting system is key to creating safer communities, for all.” 
Currently, thirteen states and the District of Colombia have  two-way cross reporting programs, in which animal/welfare personnel must report to each other.
"I encourage everyone who cares about protecting vulnerable children and animals to contact their legislators and ask them to pass this bill.  They deserve the protection." urged Rep. Morgan.
The Resolution was co-sponsored by Representatives Robert Nardolillo III (R-District 28 Coventry), Sherry Roberts (R-District 29 Coventry, West Greenwich), Ken Mendonça (R-District 72 Middletown, Portsmouth) and Anthony Giarrusso (R-District 30 East Greenwich, West Greenwich).

For more information, contact:
Raina C. Smith, House Minority Office
State House Room 106
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-2259