Washington justices: Animal abuse can be domestic violence

February 17, 2022 GMT

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The Washington Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously confirmed that animal abuse can constitute domestic violence.

The court issued its ruling in the case of Charmarke Abdi-Issa, a Tukwila man who was convicted of animal abuse with a domestic violence designation for savagely beating his girlfriend’s dog — a Chihuahua-dachshund mix named Mona — to death in a Seattle parking lot in 2018.

He was sentenced to 18 months in prison — 12 for animal abuse and an extra six because the attack traumatized a woman who saw him pounding on the yelping dog and booting it into some bushes.

Responding officers took Mona to a veterinary clinic, where the animal died.

The justices unanimously held that the purpose of the domestic violence designation is to enforce existing criminal statutes in a way that ensures victims are protected. It allows courts to issue a post-conviction no-contact order between the perpetrator and the victim.

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While the court unanimously agreed that the domestic violence designation was properly applied in Abdi-Issa’s case, two justices — Debra Stephens and Barbara Madsen — disagreed with the majority’s decision to uphold the extra six months he received for traumatizing a witness.

Stephens and Madsen said that aggravating factor must apply only when a crime has a destructive and foreseeable impact on a specific person or group of people besides the victim — not simply because the crime is committed in public and a witness is traumatized.