CA Governor Signs Bill Protecting Pets from Domestic Violence
|Sep 18 2007|
The new legislation allows the courts to include pets in restraining orders.
In an effort to protect pets who get caught in the middle of domestic violence battles, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 353 into law last week, allowing judges to include pets in domestic violence protection orders.
The bill was sponsored by State Senator Sheila Kuehl and allows the courts to order the respondent to stay away from the animal as well as grant the petitioner exclusive care of the pet.
Im really happy that it passed, Kuehl stated. Theres been a lot of recognition that many times batterers use threats and violence against the family pets to maintain power and control over their victimsas well as threatening the pets of their children, most of whom dont even know this is happening.
Violation of the protection order would be punishable as a contempt of court charge, a misdemeanor. The new legislation will be effective Jan. 1, 2008.
I hope itll protect family pets from this kind of violence that so many of them are put through, Kuehl said, and I also hope that itll help the victims to be able to have the authority of the court behind them in taking possession of the petsand keeping the batterer away from them.
Research shows that 25 to 40 percent of domestic violence victims do not leave their abusers because theyre concerned about what will happen to their animals, and 71 percent of pet-owning women in shelters reported that a pet had been threatened, injured or killed by their abuser, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
California law enforcement officials received 181,362 domestic violence calls in 2005 (the most recent year data was available), according to the California Department of Justice.
California joins Illinois, Maine, Vermont, New York and Connecticut in implementing legislation that protects pets from domestic violence. Several other states are considering similar measures.
Edited: Sep 17 2007 at 8:32 pm
ASPCA Salutes California On The Passage of S.B. 353
Link Between Animal Abuse and Domestic Violence Gains National Ground: Twelve States Have Introduced Legislation on This Issue
NEW YORK, September 12, 2007The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today applauded the passage of a bill that the organization has worked closely alongside the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, domestic violence victims and legislators, to implement. S.B. 353, sponsored by Sen. Sheila Kuehl will allow people to list their pets on restraining orders, an important step in preventing abusers from using pets to threaten their victims.
The statistics speak volumes, said Sen. Sheila Kuehl. It is estimated that 25 to 40 percent of domestic violence victims are unable to escape their abusers because they worry about what will happen to their companion animalsthats almost half this population.
Research has also shown that 83 percent of directors at the largest shelters for battered women in the U.S. indicated women entering the shelters discussed incidents of pet abuse in the family, and 71 percent of pet-owning women in shelters reported that a pet had been threatened, injured or killed by their abuser. S.B. 353 will address all these issues by amending section 6320 of the Family Code to include pets in domestic violence protection orders, continued Sen. Kuehl.
Restraining orders, which can be issued by a criminal or family court, are a legal tool to help prevent batterers from committing further domestic violence. However, until recently they were not often utilized to protect the family pet in such cases.
This is a significant step in the fight to protect our nations pets, and recognition of the fact that violence towards animals and violence towards humans is inextricably linked, said Ed Sayres, president & CEO of the ASPCA. Victims of domestic violence should never have to fear for their pets safety when making the decision to leave a violent situation. Including pets in protective orders goes a long way towards ensuring that this doesnt happen.
These protective orders are integral to helping victims of abuse leave volatile domestic situations knowing that their beloved pets will be safe, said Jill Buckley, senior director of legislative services and mediation training at the ASPCA. In addition, they send a clear message that animals in cases of domestic violence are important and valued members of a family who require protections from the courts.
Maine, Vermont and New York have had pet protection laws on their books since 2006, with Nevada following suit shortly thereafter in 2007. In addition, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin all introduced similar legislation this past year.