Domestic Protection Orders Help Human and Animals Victims Escape Abuse

Escrito por Nuria Querol i Viñas. Publicado en News in English.

The inclusion of companion animals in protective orders issued in domestic abuse cases shows an acceptance in the criminal justice system of the link between animal and human abuse.

Domestic Protection Orders Help Human and Animals Victims Escape Abuse

The inclusion of companion animals in protective orders issued in domestic abuse cases shows an acceptance in the criminal justice system of the link between animal and human abuse.

There has long been a statistical link made for women who stay in an abusive relationship longer because of their concern for a companion animal—either because of an immediate threat to the wellbeing of an animal or because they had no where to leave the animal if they should seek refuge in a shelter.

Last year Maine and New York paved the way by passing laws that would allow animals to be included in protective orders that are issued to keep abusers away from their victims in domestic violence cases. During the current session, a number of other states have introduced legislation on this issue, extending this protection to victims of domestic abuse, both animal and non-animal. These states include:

California  SB353
Colorado HB1235
Connecticut SB284

Illinois HB9 (unanimously passed House, now in Senate)
Maryland SB965
Massachusetts HB727
New Jersey A3082
Pennsylvania SB32
Rhode Island H5185
Tennessee SB196
Texas HB1547
*Utah HB342 (*this bill was defeated in the House—contact your legislators about proposing a new bill)
Virginia SB932
Washington SB5066

These measures are a welcome development in dealing with the problem of abused animals, although there are still many issues left unresolved. One problem is what to do with companion animals if a local shelter for victims of abuse will not accept animals. The protective orders are intended to allow victims of abuse to live in their own homes—or in other housing—without fearing that the abuser will return to do them, or their pets, further harm. Unfortunately, protective orders alone don’t guarantee the safety of victims of abuse. It can be helpful where the abuser is seen to be stalking the accuser, as violation of an order of protection would give police grounds for an arrest and detention.

Including domestic animals in orders of protection both recognizes the value of companion animals to their caretakers, and also acknowledges that abuse to animals is part of the cycle of domestic violence including abuse to women, children, and the elderly. While protective orders don’t offer a panacea to owners in abusive situations, it can mean the difference between taking a stand to end the violence and remaining victimized for fear of retaliation to oneself or ones loved ones.

If your state is listed above, please contact your state legislators and ask them to support passage of this important measure. If your state is not on the list—and you don’t live in Maine or New York which already has these measures in place—then contact your state representative and ask him/her to sponsor this legislation in your state. For a copy of a “model” law, please feel free to use the example of a domestic abuse protective order at animallaw.com.


Illinois: Domestic abuse orders of protection expanded to include companion animals

Bill Details

Name:  Order of protection in domestic abuse includes animals
Number: 
HB9
Call for Action:  Contact your state Senator and ask him/her to support the inclusion of pets in orders of protection in cases of domestic abuse.

Summary of bill

Victims of domestic abuse who have the courage to leave their abusers are able to request from a court an order of protection, which prohibits the abuser from having contact with them, from stalking or harassing the victim, and often prohibits the abuser from approaching or harming their property. HB9 would amend Illinois law to include in orders of protection companion animals living with or cared by the victim or her family. Last year Maine and New York passed their own similar laws, paving the way for a spate of new legislation that recognizes that abuse to animals is part of the cycle of domestic violence, including abuse to women, children, and the elderly. While protective orders don’t offer a panacea to owners in abusive situations, it can mean the difference between taking a stand to end the violence and remaining victimized for fear of retaliation to oneself or ones loved ones.

The Illinois House unanimously approved this measure earlier in the year. The bill was then sent to the Senate for its consideration.

Please write to your state Senator and ask him/her to support this important legislation that recognizes the value of animals and the very real link between abuse to animals and abuse to humans.