Law protects animals from homes where domestic abuse occurs

By on February 26, 2014

In addition to the feature we’ve recently released detailing animal welfare, animal rights and National Justice for Pets week, we continue to bring you news about legislation pending from around the country that will aid animals and their owners. Pet legislation continues to dominate animal news feeds. This most recent news item deals with the protection of pets owned by those who fall victim to domestic violence.

From the Centreville Independent:

At least 71 percent of pet-owning women entering women’s shelters have reported their batterer had injured, maimed, killed or threatened family pets, according to the American Humane Association.

Delegate Benjamin Cline, R-Amherst, says he hopes to give assistance to these pets and their owners with House Bill 972.  The bill states that a protective order may grant possession of the family pet to the petitioner and prohibit further violence directed toward the pet.  If passed, Virginia will join the 23 states that already have laws protecting companion animals.

“As a former prosecutor of domestic violence,” Cline told the U.S.  Humane Society, “I have seen firsthand the hesitation of victims to leave their abusers without their family pet. This important bill will help provide victims with the security they need to take that important step and successfully escape an abusive relationship.”

According to sexual and domestic abuse statistics, abusers often go after pets because the animals offer a target for revenge and can be used to psychologically control the abuser’s victims.

The bill hopefully will help to protect domestic abuse victims and their pets, as well as keep them together. Humane Societies regularly take in animals involved in domestic violence situations so that owners can seek help at a shelter. Almost 70 percent of the time, the victim comes back for the pet once the victim has left the abuser and is a healthy, safe environment.

The animals that cannot be reunited with their owners are put up for adoption within the shelter or other organizations.

Supporters of the pet legislation say they are hopeful that it will not only save owners from having to give up their pets, but the law also will save the lives of victims and animals who otherwise, wouldn’t be able to survive or leave the abuse.

When we think of violence in the home, we often think of it in two ways: violence between one person and another; violence against animals. It is interesting to read the statistics about how often animals are part and parcel to the traditional idea we have about domestic violence and measures like these are necessary not only for ailing victims of domestic violence, but also the pets who innocently get thrown into the fray that is a violent family situation.

We are glad that Humane Societies and legislators in this state and many others recognize the implications for animals in the homes where domestic violence occurs. After care is always important whether someone is dealing with loss of a job, a change in lifestyle, death or any other traumatic experience. Pets are seemingly always a part of those aftercare procedures and it is important to keep them in mind when repairing the damage.

Read the entire article about the VA measure here.

Stay tuned for more news items as we continue our coverage of animal rights week by following us through social media (icons located atop our homepage) and coming back to Pets in Omaha and our news page.

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