Assembly Public Safety Committee Pauses Passage of Bill to Protect Victims and Their Pets from Stalking Threats

Senator Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh (R-Yucaipa) expressed disappointment her bill, Senate Bill 89, did not move forward from the Assembly Public Safety Committee, but she is hopeful that, in working with the Chair, she can come to an agreement and receive the committee’s future support. The Chair expressed wanting to work collaboratively on the issue and language. SB 89 aims to update California's anti-stalking law and align it with the federal statute, providing better protections for stalking victims and their pets.

"California's current law fails to recognize the significant impact threats or injuries to beloved pets have on stalking victims," said Senator Ochoa Bogh. "By neglecting to update our state statute to conform with federal anti-stalking laws, we leave victims and their innocent pets vulnerable to stalking threats and attacks."

“It is clear we must do more to hold stalkers accountable and close the loophole in California law that is often exploited by abusers to manipulate or punish victims.  It is discouraging this effort to further shelter victims from harm was not enacted,” added Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin, whose office sponsored SB 89.

Stalking poses a significant threat to the emotional and physical well-being of victims, including their beloved pets. Stalkers often target pets as a means to intimidate, harass, or send threatening messages to their victims. An estimated one in three women (31.2%) and one in six men (16.1%) in the United States report enduring stalking at some point in their lives while one in 15 women (8.6 million) and one in 24 men (4.8 million) in the United States report being stalked in last 12 months. Stalking behaviors may be committed in person, by following the victim, or by monitoring and harassing the victim electronically. It is a crime of power and control that causes victims to fear for their safety, or the safety of their loved ones.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, perpetrators of stalking tend to damage their victim’s property including pets in order to manipulate them. One National Crime Victimization Survey estimated that four in 10 stalkers threaten a “victim or the victim’s family, friends, co-workers, or family pet,” with 87,020 threats to harm a pet being reported.

SB 89 would make it a crime to engage in conduct with the intent to harm, intimidate, or place under surveillance another person, their family members, or their pets. The bill aimed to address the gaps in current state law by extending federal protections to victims and their cherished animal companions. Stalkers exploit the strong emotional bonds between humans and their pets in order to send a strong message to victims about their own helplessness.

California’s law ignores how powerful a threat or injury to a beloved pet can be. Not updating state statute to conform to federal anti-stalking law leaves victims and their pets vulnerable to threats and attacks by a stalker.

Senator Ochoa Bogh remains committed to advocating for the safety and protection of stalking victims and their pets. She will continue to work toward updating California's anti-stalking laws, recognizing the importance of safeguarding victims and their pets from stalking threats and attacks.

Organizations in support of SB 89:

American Association of University Women

California American Association of University Women

San Jose American Kennel Club, INC.

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals California District Attorneys Association

California Police Chiefs Association

Crime Victims Alliance

Crime Victims United

Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office Peace Officers Research Association of California Riverside County District Attorney

Social Compassion in Legislation