States crack down on pet abuse

Great news – too bad it has taken so long, but we will continue to pray and fight for rights and protection of all animals and domestic violence victims.

(Excerpt from CNN.com – read the full story here)


States crack down on pet abuse to protect women

In every state, pets are considered property under the law, and judges cannot order a person to not harm, injure or interfere with the care of a family pet. But that is changing as 21 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have enacted laws to include pets in domestic violence protection orders.

Texas is the most recent state to pass a bill that will punish family violence perpetrators under protective orders who torture pets.

Democratic Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis, who sponsored the bill that will go into effect September 1, said the legislation provides the opportunity for law enforcement to bring federal prosecution against abusive partners who threaten pets.

Protective orders protect women against further abuse by a partner, but the same doesn’t hold true for pets, Davis explained. Now that pets are included in orders, abusers will receive a misdemeanor for the first violation and felony charges upon two or more violations.

Every day, thousands of pets and humans are at risk in abusive relationships, according to Phil Arkow, coordinator of the National Link Coalition, which seeks to prevent violence toward people and animals. A study by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence found that 71% of women entering shelters report that their batterer had injured, killed or threatened a pet to exert control over them.

For many women, fleeing with their dog or cat isn’t an option when only one in eight domestic violence shelters accept pets, according to the NCADV.

The Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Texas recognized this problem and started PetSafe — a program to provide temporary boarding, medical care and food for pets of families escaping domestic violence. This year, the program cared for 20 pets, but the organization investigated 14,642 cases of animal abuse, neglect and cruelty in 2010, according to HSPCA spokeswoman Stacy Fox.

In the past few years, state representatives have been debating bills that would include pets in domestic violence protective orders. David Favre, a law professor of animal cruelty at Michigan State University, said the majority of these bills eventually pass because “everybody can agree with the principle.”

“Who’s going to stand up and say, ‘No, the husband should be able to abuse the pet’?” he said.

However, Favre explained adding pets in protective order laws may not be effective since pet abusers already violate the state’s animal cruelty law.

“If a man wants to inflict harm, he’s not going to really be stopped by this protective order,” he said.

But after hearing stories — in one case, a man cut off a dog’s ears and sent them to his partner to get her to return — Davis says she believes the new law will help keep women safe.

“The bill isn’t about protecting the pet nearly as much as it is about protecting women, who unfortunately can be convinced to say in an abusive situation where a pet is used as basically a pawn against her emotions,” she said.

 

2012-08-24T02:24:48+00:00

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