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Animal attorneys? Connecticut bill would allow advocates to speak for animals in court

A Connecticut legislator has proposed a bill that would allow the appointment of an advocate to act on behalf of an animal during court proceedings.

Connecticut State Rep. Diana Urban proposed the bill, known as HB 6310, "An Act Concerning Animal Advocates in Court Proceedings." It would permit a veterinarian with the Department of Agriculture to be appointed as an advocate for an animal whose welfare or custody is the subject of a civil or criminal court proceeding.

"HB 6310 would give the option for an advocate in court for an egregiously injured animal," said Urban, a Democrat from North Stonington, Conn. "This would enable the animal's injury to be identified as a red flag for future violent behavior. We are putting together a public/private partnership with the state Department of Agriculture and nonprofit rescue groups including Connecticut Votes for Animals to be available to speak for the animals in court."

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Urban was joined at a news conference Thursday by Asa Palmer, a North Stonington high school student who discovered two of the cows on his family farm shot in the face in January. One of the cows had to be euthanized.

"If this was in place today, Asa Palmer could request an advocate for his young cow, 'Angel,' who was shot in the face and left with her jaw hanging off," Urban said.

Two men have been charged with shooting Palmer's cows.

The bill, which is awaiting action in the legislature's Judiciary Committee, has the support of other lawmakers.

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"Much like our children who cannot advocate on behalf of themselves, innocent animals that are abused or worse, killed, deserve that same right," said Rep. Brenda Kupchick, a Republican from Fairfield, Conn. "Violence of any type is unacceptable and we must do whatever we can to give a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves."

It was not clear if or when the Judiciary Committee would take action on Urban's bill.