MONTPELIER, Vt. _ Pets will be protected from domestic violence under a new law that makes Vermont the second state in the country to include pets in court orders.
Gov. James Douglas has signed a measure that permits judges to offer protection-from-abuse orders for pets owned by victims of domestic abuse.
"Violence to pets is often a tactic used by batterers to instill fear in and control over their victims," said Joanne Boourbeau, head of the Human Society's New England division. "Victims of domestic violence may be reluctant to leave an abusive relationship for fear of retaliation upon their pets. This legislation will give an extra layer of protection to domestic violence victims."
Maine has a similar law and pet protection measures are being considered in New York and Illinois.
Vermont's law goes into effect after Sept. 30. Violators face fines of up to $25,000 and prison time.
The Humane Society said studies show a link between domestic abuse and animal cruelty. The group has said "a history of animal abuse was found in 25 percent of aggressive male criminals, 30 percent of convicted child molesters, 36 percent of those who assaulted women and 46 percent of those convicted of sexual homicide."
Information from: The Times Argus, http://www.timesargus.com/