CT~Gov Signs Law to Protect Pets in Domestic Violence Cases!
CT Governor Rell Signs Law to Protect Pets in Domestic Violence Cases
At a ceremony today at the Connecticut Humane Society in Newington, Governor M. Jodi Rell signed An Act Concerning the Protection of Pets in Domestic Violence Cases. Governor Rell thanked State Senator Andrew Roraback of Goshen, State Senator Tony Guglielmo of Stafford Springs, State Rep. Michael Alberts of Woodstock, State Rep. Joe Mioli of Westport and State Rep. John Hetherington of New Canaan for their leadership in moving the bill through the legislative process. The Governor also thanked the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence for their advocacy.
The new law, effective October 1, permits courts to issue orders of protection for animals owned or kept by victims of family violence, stalking, or harassment. The orders may, at a minimum, prohibit respondents or defendants from injuring or threatening to injure the animals. In family violence cases, the order may be a civil restraining, or criminal protective, order.
One way to further traumatize the human target of domestic violence is to injure or kill that person's beloved pet. When domestic violence erupts, family pets are often the first target because abusers understand and exploit the deep bond between pets and family members.
Threatening the pet often causes the victim to stay for fear of what might happen to the animal if they leave, Governor Rell said. Studies have found that almost half of battered women delay their escape for that reason.
Pets are too often the silent victims of domestic violence. They cannot fight back, and they are presently afforded no protection under our current legal system. This law will help will protect pets in domestic violence cases by authorizing courts to include a prohibition on harming a pet when it issues a restraining or protective order. I firmly believe that protecting animals can help protect human victims of domestic violence.
Research also shows that pet abuse is a predictor of domestic violence, and paying attention to pet abuse can save human lives. The Governor noted that studies show that up to 71 percent of battered women report their pet was threatened, harmed, or killed by their partners. A national survey found that 85 percent of women's shelters indicated that women seeking safety described incidents of pet abuse in their families.
Under current law, protective orders only cover the victim. By harming or threatening to harm a pet that is cherished by the victim, an abuser can still hurt a victim without technically violating an order of protection.
By protecting pets, the new law shuts the door on any opportunities for abusers to continue to abuse their victims, Governor Rell said. Victim of domestic violence should not be subject to this further intimidation and cruelty if a pet becomes a target.
To date, only three states -- Maine, New York and Vermont -- have enacted laws permitting family pets to be included in protective court orders involving cases of domestic violence.
Domestic violence shelters and animal protection organizations have begun partnering to develop "safe havens" for pets of domestic violence victims because many victims delay leaving out of fear for their pets' safety.
Content Last Modified on 6/21/2007 11:34:29 AM