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CT Rated ‘Most Improved’ for 2023 National Animal Protection Laws 

CT animal advocates got a pleasant surprise last month when the state was recognized by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) for achieving the greatest improvement of all states in enacting animal protection laws in 2023. CT jumped from number 31 to number 11 — a huge leap over 20 other states! 


ADLF is a respected national nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the lives and advancing the interests of animals through the legal system. Its U.S. Animal Laws Ranking Report compares the overall strength and comprehensiveness of each state’s animal protection laws based on 20 different categories of animal protection. 


“While CT has been a pioneer in animal law, being the first state to enact a courtroom animal advocate program in 2016, the state still had significant gaps in its laws addressing animal cruelty,” said Kathleen Wood, senior staff attorney at ALDF.  “In 2023 CT took several major steps forward in ensuring that animals have the protections they need and deserve.”


ALDF credits passage of the Act Concerning Cruelty to Animals for the great advancement in CT’s animal protection laws. This single comprehensive bill strengthened the penalties against sexual assault of animals, prohibits those convicted of animal cruelty from possessing an animal for five years, and requires veterinarians to report suspected cases of animal cruelty. 

Key Bills

Key Animal Protection Bills Gain Traction in 2024 Session

With the 2024 session of the CT General Assembly off and running, CVA supporters have been very active in letting legislators know how various bills will impact CT’s wildlife and companion animals.  Our supporters testified, orally or in writing, on many significant proposals, including some CVA priorities. And committee action last week was great validation that legislators are listening! 

In the Environment Committee, advocates voiced concerns about bills that were deficient and needed to be fixed. Committee members demonstrated their understanding by amending the bills before voting them out of committee. One of them was a CVA priority calling for a ban on the sale and use of Second-Generation Anticoagulant Rodenticides (SGARs). Learn about the status of other priority animal bills.

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  • HB 5217 AAC: The Use of Certain Rodenticides. Sharing our concerns about the harmful second-hand effects of certain powerful rodenticides on wildlife, companion animals, and children, the Environment Committee strengthened the bill passed last year by banning the sale and use of these lethal toxins with certain exceptions. Now on to the House!

  • HB 5223 AAC Minor Revisions to Agriculture Related Statutes.  There was nothing “minor” about Section 1 of this bill which would have redefined “animal” in state law and, in turn, withdrawn protections – such as preventing and intervening in cruelty – to some animals.  The Environment Committee heard our concerns and stripped this section from the bill before voting it out of committee.  Great work!


Another bill being considered by the Environment Committee also needs to be strengthened before it is voted out:

  • SB 190 AAC the Use of Neonicotinoids.  This pesticide is known as the new DDT and is harming CT’s birds, bees, wildlife and people.  We are hoping the committee will amend the bill to ban the non-agricultural use of “neonics”.


Defensively, our supporters testified against bills that would hurt CT’s animals, most notably:

  • SB 196 AAC the Harvesting of Rabbits for the Local Food Supply.  No!  Rabbits are beloved companion animals in CT and most state residents would be aghast to think that their elected officials would facilitate the slaughter of these creatures.  We are hoping that the Environment Committee takes no further action on this bill.


CVA supporters have been very active in letting lawmakers know how various bills will impact Connecticut’s wildlife and companion animals, offering testimony on several bills that received committee support: 

  • SB 132 AAC Dog Racing.  It looks like CT is on track to follow the lead of 42 other states and finally outlaw this cruel practice!

  • HB 5224 AAC the Protection of Spiny Dogfish prohibits the possession, sale, trade, or distribution of shark fins.  Shark finning is the cruel and despicable act of removing fins from sharks and discarding the rest of the shark back into the ocean.


We also support SB 291 AAC the Sale of Certain Balloons, namely helium and lighter-than-air balloons that are not biodegradable and are often mistaken for food by birds, turtles, and other wildlife who can choke or become entangled.  Therefore, it was also requested that the bill be amended to also ban the release of these balloons. The measure is still in committee.

We still need your help letting legislators know your position on these important proposals.  With two months left in the 2024 session, there are several bills we hope to get over the finish line while blocking measures that will add to the plight of CT’s vulnerable animals.  We are counting on you to SPEAK UP FOR ANIMALS! 

Submitted by CVA Board Member Anne Foley


Pest Control Poisons a Key Factor in Death of Beardsley Zoo Monkeys 

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Rodenticides – and a delay in providing veterinary care – contributed to the death of two exotic monkeys at the Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport last summer, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The federal agency confirmed the Goeldi’s monkeys died suddenly after partially consuming a mouse that had ingested the pesticide, believed to be a second-generation anticoagulant rodenticide (SGARs).  

SGARs are powerful poisons that stay in tissues and organs of rodents for months, making it easy for predators that naturally eat rodents – such as owls, eagles, and hawks -- to get a lethal dose of toxins.  They are also the target of the CVA-supported bill before lawmakers against their sale and use in CT:  HB 5217 AAC: The Use of Certain Rodenticides.

Citing the monkeys’ demise, CVA President Susan Linker wrote in testimony to the Environment Committee: “It is tragic that it took the death ofthese innocent creatures for the Zoo to discontinue use of SGARs, but we need to ensure that similar deaths do not continue to occur across the state among our vulnerable animal populations,” 

Unintentional secondary poisonings from SGARs are increasing at an alarming rate in CT; victims include wildlife and companion animals.  Alternatives to these poisons exist and should be used.  


In the Beardsley Zoo case, federal inspectors found that zoo officials were unable to contact the facility’s veterinarian immediately after the monkeys ingested the pesticide. “In this emergency situation there were delays in reaching the AV (attending veterinarian),” according USDA official Myra Brooks. “No treatment was provided to the two non-human primates and their deaths were the result.” 


The male and female pair of squirrel-sized Goeldi’s monkeys were known as Monty, 15, and Jovi, 4. 


(Read how one bird sanctuary in CT, A Place Called Hope works to heal animals poisoned by SGARs and other causes.)


All Rise for Desmond’s Army and Linda Pleva!

“Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.” 


This quote from Margaret Mead holds a special place in the hearts of both Connecticut Votes for Animals and for the nonprofit organization, Desmond’s Army.  Next month, the Connecticut Bar Association will be celebrating and honoring the executive board of Desmond’s Army with the “Citizen for the Law Award.” The honor is presented to those who are “not employed in the legal area but have made a significant contribution to the institution of justice and the law on a voluntary basis.” The board includes VP and Treasurer Linda Pleva, who also works for CVA, President Robin “Zilla” Cannamela, and VP and Secretary Candace Bouchard. All have been fighting for the innocent victims of animal abuse for several decades. 



Disheartened by the lack of legal action by the CT courts against animal abusers, a small group of animal advocates banded together to fight as a unit and bring these abusers to justice. The group was named after an innocent victim, a dog named Desmond, who succumbed to horrific injuries Inflicted by his owner who ultimately received minimal legal repercussions for his heinous acts.  


Linda Pleva, a long-time animal welfare supporter heard about the group and wholeheartedly supporting their commitment to change CT’s animal cruelty laws, became an active part of the group. 

Quickly making their presence known to the courts - and to the media - by arriving en mass in their unique purple tee shirts with Desmond's image, the group became known around the state as Desmond’s Army, and on any given day,  at any one of Connecticut’s court houses,  it would not be unusual to see members in purple shirts fighting for justice on behalf of Connecticut’s abused animals.  


The “Army” has since expanded its campaign to include educating the public on the connection between animal cruelty and domestic violence and providing municipalities with funding for necropsies or DNA results to aid in the prosecution of cruelty cases.  They also offer rewards for information leading to the identification of people responsible for cruelty to an animal. 


Getting involved with Desmond’s Army and fighting for the rights of innocent animal victims of abuse has been a life’s work for Linda. That made it an easy transition for Linda to become a CVA staff member and quickly morph into her role as CVA’s community engagement and communications coordinator.  


Today, we all celebrate Linda Pleva for her amazing achievement on behalf of Desmond’s army - and as one of CVA’s own stars.   Thank you, Linda for always being there for all of us at CVA…and thank you from all the animals who benefit from your undying devotion to their safe and protected future. You are CVA’s personal star! 


Read more about the extraordinary work by Desmond’s Army on behalf of Connecticut’s innocent animal abused victims on their website and on CVA’s blog.  ( or to


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