Indiana joins Maine, New York and Vermont as the fourth state to pass a bill acknowledging and protecting family pets in the center of domestic violence trauma. http://www.hsus.org/press_and_publications/press_releases/indiana_enacts_stronger_cruelty_laws.html Indiana Enacts Stronger Laws against Cruelty to Animals May 7, 2007 WASHINGTON Indiana joins Maine, New York and Vermont as the fourth state to pass a bill acknowledging and protecting family pets in the center of domestic violence trauma. The bill passed last week specifies the definition of "crime involving domestic or family violence" to include certain crimes involving animal cruelty used to threaten, intimidate, coerce, harass, or terrorize a family or household member. According to The Humane Society of the United States, one way to further traumatize the human target of domestic violence is to injure or kill that persons beloved pet. When domestic violence erupts, family pets are often the first target as abusers understand and exploit the bond between pets and family members. Threatening a pet can cause the victim to stay for fear of what might happen to the animal if they leave. Studies have found that almost half of battered women delay their escape for that reason. Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of The HSUS said, This bill recognizes the very close link between animal cruelty and human violence. The bond between people and their pets is so powerful that people would rather stay in an abusive situation if it means protecting their animal. The bond with a pet is sometimes the only positive and unconditional relationship that a victim might have and that means they will do absolutely anything to keep them safe. We want every state to recognize the deep significance of that relationship and acknowledge that for most people, a pet is part of the family and therefore a victim and pawn in the cycle of domestic violence. Facts: * The bill specifies that the definition of a crime involving domestic or family violence includes certain crimes involving animal cruelty used to threaten, intimidate, coerce, harass, or terrorize a family or household member. * The bill permits a court to prohibit or impose conditions on the right of a person convicted of certain animal cruelty offenses to possess an animal. * The bill specifies that animal cruelty based on abandonment or neglect may only be committed by the animal's owner, and creates a defense if the owner reasonably believed that the animal was capable of surviving on its own. * The bill makes purchasing an animal with the intent to use the animal in an animal fighting contest a Class D felony. * The bill requires the state veterinarian or the designee of the state veterinarian to investigate the condition of a mistreated animal if the owner is criminally charged with an offense relating to the animal's mistreatment and make a recommendation concerning the animal's confiscation. * The bill makes killing an animal with the intent used to threaten, intimidate, coerce, harass, or terrorize a family or household member a Class D felony. * The bill makes sexual intercourse or deviate sexual conduct with an animal a Class D felony. * The bill requires a court to consider requiring a person who commits animal cruelty to receive counseling as part of the sentence or dispositional decree. * Seven of every 10 families with minor children include a pet -- more than 64 million households in total. * Research shows that pet abuse is a predictor of domestic violence. Paying attention to pet abuse can save human lives. * Studies show that up to 71% of battered women report their pet was threatened, harmed, or killed by their partners. * A national survey found that 85% of womens shelters indicated that women seeking safety described incidents of pet abuse in their families. * Batterers threaten, abuse, or kill animals to demonstrate and confirm power and control over the family, to isolate the victim and children, and to prevent the victim from leaving or coerce her/him to return.