The 2009 legislative season opened with multiple states considering bills that would include animals in domestic violence protection orders.Bills have been introduced in Arizona (SB 1278), Georgia (HB 429), Hawaii (SB 1086), Iowa (HF 32 and SF 70), Maryland (HB 901 and SB 736), Massachusetts (HD 1319 and HD 1499), Minnesota (SF 838/HF 1396), Nebraska (LD 83), New Jersey (AB 1419), New Mexico (HB 434), Ohio (HB 55), South Carolina (H. 3117), Texas (HB 853/SB 1840), Virginia (HB 2381), Washington (HB 1148) and Wyoming (HB 206).
Most of these bills have fairly standard language authorizing a court to (1) order that the petitioner be granted the exclusive care, custody or control of animals and (2) order the respondent to stay away from the animals. However, the Massachusetts bill has several unique provisions. House Docket 1319 would also assist abused persons in finding temporary shelter for animals whose safety is threatened, and would declare expenses incurred as a result of injury in a domestic violence situation to be compensable. In addition, the bill authorizes a feasibility study to expand the service dog training program at Massachusetts Correctional Institution - Framingham to accommodate canine victims of domestic violence needing foster placement.
Unfortunately, the bills filed in Wyoming and Virginia failed to pass before the legislatures adjourned. Nebraska’s bill failed to receive enough votes to advance out of committee and on to the House floor.
To follow the progress of these and other Link-related bills, you can use American Humane’s legislative tracking tool.