Buchanan’s bipartisan bill would study link between domestic abuse, animal violence

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) on Feb. 15 signed on as the lead original cosponsor of a bipartisan bill that aims to help combat domestic animal abuse in the United States.

The Animal Violence Exposes Real Threat of (AVERT) Future Violence Act of 2024, H.R. 7396, which is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV), is the companion bill to the identical S. 3737, introduced on Feb. 6 by U.S. Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Gary Peters (D-MI).

If enacted, the bill would examine the link between the individuals who abuse animals and those who go on to commit violence against people, including family members, according to a bill summary provided by the lawmakers that cites data from the FBI showing that 70 percent of convicted animal abusers have committed another crime, with nearly 40 percent having committed violent crimes against people.

“Not surprisingly, deranged individuals who abuse innocent animals are significantly more likely to go on to commit violence against people,” said Rep. Buchanan, co-chair of the bipartisan Animal Protection Caucus. “In fact, studies have shown that nearly 40 percent of known animal abusers commit crimes against humans as well.”

Specifically, the legislation would require the U.S. Department of Justice to examine connections between acts of animal cruelty and violence against people and to provide policy recommendations that would help prevent domestic abuse from occurring in the first place, the summary says.

Additionally, the bill would authorize a $2 million annual grant program to support mental health experts, law enforcement, and animal welfare organizations in their efforts to stop animal cruelty and domestic abuse, according to the summary.

“By collecting data to study the link between animal and domestic abuse, we will be able to make informed legislative decisions that improve public safety, decrease incidents of domestic violence, and protect animals,” said Rep. Titus. 

The bill has garnered support from numerous entities, including the ASPCA, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, the Animal Welfare Institute, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, the National Sheriffs’ Association, the American Psychological Association, and the Animal Legal Defense Fund, among others.