Monday, October 01, 2007

Absolutely Whacked in Connecticut

Restraining and protective orders issued for pets in Connecticut???!!! Again it is about the money and lawyers having a new excuse to collect cash. Around two thirds of the legislators on the Connecticut Judiciary Committee are lawyers, what does that say about what team they really are on?

RILEY, a 6-month-old golden retriever, has been issued a protective order in a divorce-related dispute by Manchester Superior Court Judge Bradford Ward. Riley is held by Brian and Mary Ann Reynolds and daughter Briana Carilli in their South Windsor yard. (PATRICK RAYCRAFT / September 28, 2007)

From the Hartford Courant
Law Gives Teeth To Pet Protection
By CHRISTINE DEMPSEY | Courant Staff Writer
October 1, 2007

Riley, a golden retriever, is among the first beneficiaries of a new state law taking effect today that allows judges to issue protective orders on behalf of pets.

On Sept. 24, a Superior Court judge in Manchester ordered that the South Windsor dog be protected from Cassandra Reynolds, who police say had kicked the animal the day before. Believing the law was already in effect, a prosecutor asked that Riley be added to the list of parties with whom Reynolds, who lives in Manchester, must have no contact.

The order lists Riley, a family pet, as a "protected person" along with Brian Reynolds, Cassandra Reynolds' ex-husband, and Mary Ann Reynolds, his new wife. Cassandra Reynolds must refrain from coming within 100 yards of all three, it states.

Protective orders are common in domestic disputes and list conditions of the accused person's release from custody. The new law also applies to restraining orders - the civil court's version of protective orders.

Now that the new law is in effect, the courts will add a new box on a check-off list of conditions with which the accused must comply. The new box will give judges the option of naming as protected parties animals that are "owned or kept by the [human] victim." Until the new forms are available, court staff will check a box for miscellaneous mandates, as was done with Riley.

"We're all for it," said Mary Ann Reynolds of the new law. "We think it's a wonderful thing. I think it's long overdue."

On Sept. 23, Mary Ann Reynolds said, Cassandra Reynolds was in the passenger seat of a car that pulled into the South Windsor family's driveway. Riley approached to greet her, Mary Ann said, and Cassandra swung her legs around, and, using both feet, kicked the dog "with all of her might."

Yelping, the 6-month-old dog tumbled across the driveway, she said. Cassandra Reynolds' lawyer, Jon D. Berman, said his client never kicked the dog.

Police said Cassandra Reynolds, who works with preschoolers at St. Bridget School in Manchester, also yelled obscenities in the presence of children. She later was charged with first-degree criminal trespass and breach of peace and posted $50,000 bail.

The next day, in Superior Court in Manchester, prosecutor Lisa Herskowitz read the details of the incident and asked Judge Bradford Ward to add Riley's name to the order.

"When I saw that, it got me mad. I have three dogs," Herskowitz said of the police report. "The dog is walking up to see someone, and all of the sudden it gets kicked?"

Riley is protected under a bill Gov. M. Jodi Rell signed May 30. Called "An Act Concerning the Protection of Pets in Domestic Violence Cases," it follows similar bills passed in Maine, New York and Vermont. The bill was filed by Sen. Andrew W. Roraback, R-Goshen.

Kristin DeJournett, a cruelty case worker for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said she is thrilled the bill passed: "We think this is a great law. We are excited."

She said PETA gets "tons of calls" from people, usually women, involved in domestic feuds in which their pets are threatened.

"A lot of times, animals have to be left behind," when an abused person flees a violent home, she said.

Other times, the victims of domestic violence refuse to leave for fear their pets will be harmed, she said. She's heard things like, "I know if I leave, he'll kill Fluffy."

Lt. Brian Smith of the Vernon Police Department said, "I've seen situations over the years where people were willing to risk their lives for their pets."

Ward isn't the only judge to extend protective orders to pets before the law took effect. A Superior Court judge in Rockville recently issued such an order.

Nothing's wrong with that, said Judge Patrick Clifford, chief administrative judge of the criminal court system. There never was anything prohibiting such orders, he said. The new law simply spells it out as an option. "It's going to be clear," Clifford said.

Courant reporter David Owens contributed to this story.

Contact Christine Dempsey at

Copyright © 2007, The Hartford Courant

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