Important Bill Protecting Pets and Domestic Violence Victims Needs Your Help to Become Law!

Update: 

The Senate approved SB 177 unanimously! Action in the House is not yet scheduled.

Date: 
Thursday, May 22, 2014

Important Bill Protecting Pets and Victims of Domestic Violence in Virginia Needs Your Help to Become Law - Photo from flickr ChoubbDear Ohio Humanitarian,

There is good news out of the Ohio State Senate:  On May 14, the Criminal Justice Committee unanimously voted to have SB 177 considered by the full Senate! This bill allows for the inclusion of companion animals in protection orders for victims of domestic violence in Ohio. (For more information on this subject, visit https://awionline.org/content/animals-family-violence.) Its companion bill, HB 243, awaits action in a House committee.

How does a protective order work and why is it important pets are included? Victims of domestic violence can go to court to get a restraining order issued against their abusers, usually prohibiting the abuser from coming within a certain distance of the victim and other family members or barring them from certain locations. When judges have authorization to include pets in protective orders, a court can order the abuser to make no contact with the victim's pets and forbid taking, harming, or threatening the pets. Violation of such an order would be cause for arrest, resulting in criminal penalties.

Are pets often at risk in domestic violence situations and does this put the victim at further risk? Yes. In order to intimidate and control their human victims, many domestic abusers threaten, abuse, or kill household pets. Studies have shown that up to 48 percent of battered victims delay leaving abusive situations for fear that the pets they must leave behind will be abused or killed. Two reports produced by the Ohio Domestic Violence Network found that 79 percent of the domestic violence victims surveyed identified the need for pet support for victims, and over 40 percent reported their pets were killed, harmed, or threatened to be harmed, and that they believed their pets would be harmed if they left home without them. Many victims clearly stated in these reports that pet safety affected their decision to leave an abusive home. Protective orders that include pets will encourage more victims to leave dangerous, abusive situations, as well as protect the animals themselves. Including pets in protective orders would help to ensure the safety of all victims of domestic violence. SB 177 is an important bill that will help Ohio families!

Which states have passed pet protective order legislation? Twenty-five states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, now have laws that include provisions for including household pets in domestic violence protection orders.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:
It is urgent that you call your state senator IMMEDIATELY and ask him/her to vote for SB 177 when it comes to the floor. If no one answers, please leave a short, polite message. To find your senator's phone number in Columbus (don't call the district office unless there is no other number), click here. Enter your address and click "Go"; then scroll down to find your state senator.

Next, please follow-up with an email, which you can send via the Compassion Index. Once you click though to the Compassion Index and enter your address, you will find language to include in your email.

As always, thank you for speaking out on behalf of the animals! Also be sure to share this alert with your family and friends in Ohio and ask them to contact their senators as well.

Sincerely,

Nancy Blaney
Senior Policy Advisor

P.S. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates on the action above and other important animal protection news.