Nevada Senate votes unanimously for pets

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A Nevada Senate panel voted Monday for a bill that would allow courts to take action against domestic abusers who try to harass their partners by hurting or even killing family pets or other animals.

Nevada Senate votes unanimously for pets

Legislation
Apr 30 2007
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A Nevada Senate panel voted Monday for a bill that would allow courts to take action against domestic abusers who try to harass their partners by hurting or even killing family pets or other animals.

Abusing a family pet to terrorize and control other family members is all too common in situations of domestic abuse, said Victoria Van Meter, a Washoe County Family Court master.

"Seeing a beloved family pet tortured or killed has a devastating impact on children and families," said Van Meter. "Animal cruelty lets the victim and children know just how brutal and lethal the abuser can be."

In her testimony, Van Meter quoted victim statements in domestic abuse cases that described one abuser who threw a cat against a wall, and another who tried to snap a puppy's neck.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously for AB282, which would add hurting or killing an animal to a list of behaviors that would enable courts to issue restraining orders. It also would allow a court to specify arrangements for care of any animals owned by the allegedly abused party.

The bill, which was passed unanimously by the Assembly two weeks ago, now goes to the full Senate for final legislative action.

The bill's chief sponsor, Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, said that when talking to groups about the bill, people regularly approached her with their own stories of domestic animal abuse.

"One woman who was about my age told me very vividly, with tears streaming down her cheeks, about when she was 10 and her stepfather kicked their family dog to death in front of her mother, her brother, and herself," said Leslie. "As I was working on this bill, I became much more aware that this is very common."

Animal abuse also can delay women from seeking the help they need, she said.

"So many women will not leave an abusive situation without being sure that their pet is safe," said Leslie. "This link between animal abuse and control and domestic violence is very, very clear."

The committee also voted for AB52, which adds several criteria courts must consider when making alimony decisions. That bill also includes a provision instructing the director of the Department of Public Safety to produce an annual report about domestic violence-related restraining orders issued in the state.

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ASPCA: Nevada Becomes Fourth State to Allow Orders of Protection for Pets!

AB 282—Protection Orders for Pets

Sponsor(s): Assemblymember Sheila Leslie
ASPCA Position: Support
Action Needed: Please send a letter to Assemblymember Leslie thanking her for introducing this important humane legislation.

With Governor Jim Gibbons’ signing of AB 282 on May 15, Nevada joined Maine, Vermont and New York to become the fourth state in the nation to protect pets from abuse in domestic violence cases! (Connecticut became the fifth state on June 20, and bills in Illinois and Tennessee also have passed their legislatures.)

The new law authorizes courts to include certain protections for domestic animals in an order for protection against domestic violence. Studies show that victims of domestic violence often delay leaving their homes because the abuser has threatened to harm the victim’s beloved pet.