New Law Proposed To Protect Pets in Situations of Domestic Abuse

helping pets in situations of domestic abuse

YamaBSM / Pixabay

It’s becoming a movement. Corporate America is signing on to back a proposed new law called the Pet and Women Safety Act that will protect animals in situation of domestic abuse.

Each year, nearly one million animals are abused or killed in connection with domestic violence.  Companies such as Nestle Purina  are building dog parks in safe haven shelters and now Bayer Animal Health is making strides to help lower this statistic by raising awareness through a campaign called  PAWS: Share the Story. This campaign supports domestic violence survivors through the donation of $60,000 to three domestic violence shelters across the country that support pets involved in domestic abuse.

Almost half of abused women say they are unable to escape abusive living situations, because they worry about what will happen to their pets should they leave1. Abusers use pets as pawns, and survivors tend to remain in abusive relationships out of concern for the welfare and safety of their pets. There are too few domestic violence shelters nationwide that are equipped to house and care for pets. This results in survivors having to choose between a life without their pet, or a dangerous living situation for both the survivor and their beloved pet.

According to Rose Brooks Center: 71% of pet-owning women entering emergency shelters reported that their batterer had injured, maimed, killed or threatened family pets for revenge or to psychologically control victims; and 48% of domestic violence survivors report they are unable to escape their abusers because they are concerned about what will happen to their pets when they leave.

Abusers use pets as pawns, and survivors tend to remain in abusive relationships out of concern for the welfare and safety of their pets. There are too few domestic violence shelters nationwide that are equipped to house and care for pets. This results in survivors having to choose between a life without their pet, or remaining in a dangerous living situation.

The PAWS Act addresses this issue by authorizing grants to provide housing assistance, support services, and training for survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and their families, including their pets. It also prohibits threats or acts of violence against a person’s pet under the offenses of stalking and interstate violation of a protection order and requires the inclusion of any costs incurred for veterinary services relating to physical care for the victim’s pet in restitution in domestic violence and stalking offenses.

Fortunately now big steps are being taken on a national level to address this issue. The Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act is currently in review and aims to help bridge the gap between the need of services for domestic violence survivors with pets and the ability of agencies to meet those needs. This bill is adamant about removing the roadblock that is essential to the safety of these survivors, acknowledging that more services are urgently needed to accomplish this.

“We recognize the great need to support domestic violence shelters that care for both survivors and their beloved pets,” said Lauren Dorsch, Senior Manager of Communications, Bayer Animal Health. “Survivors of domestic violence should not have to choose between their safety and a loved one, and these shelters make it possible for them to heal in a safe place, without saying goodbye to their pets.”

There are several ways people across the country can support the PAWS Act and raise awareness for this important cause. Those interested cause can take initiative by:

Sending an electronic letter to local congressman/woman and/or state senator by clicking here.

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