Animal Legal Defense Fund Partners with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges to Address Judicial Response to Animal Cruelty

Press Release – (Cotati, Calif.) – The Animal Legal Defense Fund and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) are pleased to announce a new partnership to address judicial response in court cases related to animal cruelty.

Research shows acts of cruelty against animals can be a sentinel indicator and often a predictor of other forms of family and community violence. Survivors of family violence are often left in a position of deciding whether to stay in an abusive and often dangerous situation, or to go but leave behind their beloved pets. Survivors know that leaving them behind puts their pets at even greater risk of abuse once the victim is gone. As of last year, 32 states including D.C. and Puerto Rico have enacted laws that include pets in domestic violence protection orders.

“The collaboration between the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges is the first of its kind,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “The Animal Legal Defense Fund is honored to be the first animal protection group to formally collaborate with a judicial organization, and we applaud NCJFCJ for being the first judges group to recognize the need to address animal cruelty in juvenile and family court cases.”

As part of this innovative collaboration, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and NCJFCJ will host a convening with judicial officers who preside over juvenile and family court cases to identify information that judges and courts need to better understand critical issues related to animal cruelty. The groups will then develop and disseminate a bench book to guide judges and other court personnel with juvenile and family court cases, including awareness of the link between the acts of violence towards humans and animal cruelty.

“There is an undeniable link between animal cruelty and family violence,” said Judge John J. Romero, Jr., NCJFCJ president. “This one-of-a-kind partnership with the Animal Legal Defense Fund will be an opportunity to educate our nation’s juvenile and family court judges on addressing and recognizing animal cruelty in order to help children, families, and pets who have experienced violence.”

Man and his German Shepherd dog

About the Animal Legal Defense Fund:

The Animal Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1979 to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. To accomplish this mission, the Animal Legal Defense Fund files high-impact lawsuits to protect animals from harm; provides free legal assistance and training to prosecutors to assure that animal abusers are punished for their crimes; supports tough animal protection legislation and fights harmful legislation; and provides resources and opportunities to law students and professionals to advance the emerging field of animal law. For more information, please visit

About the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ):

Founded in 1937, the Reno, Nev.-based National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, is the nation’s oldest judicial membership organization and focused on improving the effectiveness of our nation’s juvenile and family courts. A leader in continuing education opportunities, research, and policy development in the field of juvenile and family justice, the 2,000-member organization is unique in providing practice-based resources to jurisdictions and communities nationwide. To become a member, visit

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