According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in four women in the United States will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. To help escape these dangerous situations, victims often seek court-issued orders of protection (also known as restraining orders) against their abusers.
But domestic violence doesn’t always end there. Abusers often threaten and even hurt pets as a way of controlling, intimidating and exacting revenge on their victims. In fact, half of domestic violence survivors report that they delayed leaving an abusive situation because they feared for their pets’ safety. For the protection of both pets and the people who love them, the ASPCA advocates that pets be included in orders of protection in domestic violence cases.
In 2006, Maine was the first state to pass a law clarifying the court’s ability to include pets in orders of protection for victims of domestic violence. Since then, state legislatures across the country have passed similar legislation recognizing the link between violence towards humans and violence towards animals. Earlier this year, Virginia and Iowa passed pet protective order bills, and on June 9, Governor Haley signed South Carolina’s pet protective orders bill into law. If Governor Hassan signs the pet protective orders bill just passed by the New Hampshire Legislature, 27 states as well as D.C. and Puerto Rico will have passed these laws.
Working alongside the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, the ASPCA is spearheading a pet protective orders bill that passed the Ohio Senate earlier this month (Ohioans, take action here).We are also working for passage of California Assembly Bill 1982, which would add targeting a companion animal to the definition of criminal stalking. If you live in either of these states, please call your state legislators in support of this humane legislation—and if your state doesn’t yet allow judges to include pets in protective orders (see map below), let your state legislators know that you would like them to work on this issue.
Giving judges the ability to include pets in orders of protection is a common-sense measure that will save lives. All 50 states should enact these laws, and the ASPCA is working hard to ensure that we make it from the halfway mark to the finish line. No one should have to live in such fear.
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