By Matt Bershadker, President & CEO, ASPCA; and Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA)
In America, one out of four women experiences domestic violence in her lifetime, and a woman is abused every nine seconds. Many of these women survive by courageously leaving their homes and finding safety in area shelters. But for some, the decision to save their own lives becomes much more difficult when pets are involved.
M. a domestic violence survivor, chose her life over her home, but says she “would have left much sooner” if she knew she could protect her pets. M.’s abuser killed her dog and cat, and used the act to threaten her daughter’s life and prevent M. from leaving.
K., a 34-year-old mother of two, delayed leaving her abusive husband because none of the domestic violence shelters in her area would allow her to bring her dog, to whom her children had become very attached.
Another survivor, P., said her boyfriend dangled her beloved cat out the window and threatened to kill the cat if she upset him. The abuser set fire to the victim’s apartment and her cat perished from severe smoke inhalation. P. eventually found protection for herself and three new cats in a pet-friendly shelter.
These stories are not unique. As many as 25% of domestic violence survivors have reported returning to an abusive partner out of concern for their pet. And that fear is often justified. Recent studies demonstrate that abusers intentionally target pets to exert control over their intimate partners—71% of pet-owning women entering domestic violence shelters report that their abuser threatened, harmed, or killed a family pet.
This point bears repeating: victims ready to escape from abuse are instead risking their lives to protect beloved family pets. No one should have to make the impossible choice between leaving an abusive situation and ensuring a pet’s safety. Yet despite the urgent need, only 3% of domestic violence shelters nationwide are able to accommodate victims’ pets.
That’s where the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act comes in. Reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives today, this bipartisan bill criminalizes the intentional targeting of a domestic partner’s pet with the intent to kill, injure, harass, or intimidate.
It also establishes a federal grant program to help victims safely house their pets, and adds veterinary care to the list of costs that victims can recover. Additionally, the PAWS Act strongly asserts the need for states to expand their legal protections for the pets of domestic violence victims.
To date, more than half of U.S. states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have taken similar legislative action to protect the pets of domestic violence victims, but no federal legislation has addressed this issue before now. The federal protections offered by the PAWS Act will help victims and their pets escape abusive environments and seek the safety and shelter they need, across state lines if necessary.
Encourage your representative to join the nation’s leading domestic violence and animal welfare advocates in supporting the PAWS Act. As is true in many instances, when we protect pets, we protect people.
Bill is an outgoing and energetic pup—he knows playtime is the best time! He would be thrilled to go home with an adopter who can give him plenty of exercise to keep him happy and healthy. Just bring out his favorite toys and this funny guy will keep you laughing for hours.
Bill enjoys the company of other dogs and makes canine friends easily. He would make a great companion to your resident dog! This sweet boy has a couple of medical conditions that flare up during the summer months, but our Adoptions team can give you tips to help manage his health needs. Bill would do best with an experienced pet parent in a household with teens-and-up. Adopt Bill today!
Bill is available for adoption at the ASPCA Adoption Center. If you are interested in adopting, please call our Adoptions Department in New York City at (212) 876-7700 ext. 4120. To learn more about Bill, please visit his profile page.
Watch Bill in action at our Adoption Center—check out the video below!
Both owners of the facility were detained Wednesday morning and cruelty charges are expected to follow. Law enforcement also discovered illegal drugs and nearly $20,000 in cash on the property. This operation is the result of an investigation prompted by numerous complaints about conditions at the breeding facility. Several dogs acquired from the facility were discovered to be severely ill soon after purchase.
We’ve established a temporary shelter where the dogs will receive veterinary exams and care along with behavioral enrichment from the ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Behavior team. The ASPCA forensics team is also collecting and analyzing forensic evidence. Our new Medical Animal Surgical Hospital (MASH)—a custom-built, mobile medical unit—will allow veterinarians to provide critical care to dogs on-site.
In November, we shared the amazing story of a tiny kitten who survived a 30-mile journey under the hood of a car. We named her Miracle, and although her ordeal was harrowing, it was far from the end of her story. For today’s Happy Tail, we caught up with Miracle’s adopter to find out how this brave little kitten is doing in her new forever home.
When Megan Burak logged on to the ASPCA website one day last fall, she had no idea that her life was about to change forever. A self-described “animal person,” Megan works as an adoptions counselor and animal socializer at the ASPCA Adoption Center. She and her boyfriend had had many conversations about adopting a senior cat, but the couple planned to wait until after the holidays to begin their official search for a pet. However, as they soon learned, things don’t always go according to plan.
That November morning, Megan read Miracle’s story on the ASPCA blog. “Miracle was a beautiful cat from the pictures,” she recalls, “but I knew it was very likely that she would be undersocialized. Many stray kittens have not had enough human contact and can be very shy and fearful.” She didn’t think much more about the kitten until she headed to the Adoption Center for her volunteer shift, where she finally met Miracle in person.
Miracle after her harrowing rescue.
“The first thing she did when she saw me was hiss,” Megan laughs. As expected, the 30-mile journey and suspenseful rescue had left Miracle feeling timid and vulnerable. She had even been given a special “privacy box” to help her feel more secure. “The hissing might be the point where most people say, ‘no thanks,’” Megan says, but the cat-expert was intrigued. “I have a very quiet household and I knew that if she and I clicked, I’d be able to provide her with the support she needed.”
Megan was patient, and over the course of the next hour, something amazing happened: Miracle warmed up. She slowly ventured from her hiding spot, and by the end of their session, she was asking Megan for food, petting, and handling. “Miracle went from hiding to a purring ball of fluff,” she says. “I saw the potential for her to learn to trust people and become a pet rather than a street cat. This little kitten was just asking for someone to give her the TLC she needed to come out of her shell.” Against all prior plans, Megan knew she had found her new pet. She officially adopted Miracle and changed her name to Luna.
Despite the kitten’s progress at the Adoption Center, Luna still had some work to do, and her adjustment from street-cat to pet-cat wasn’t always smooth sailing. “When I first took her home, she was very, very nervous,” Megan recalls. “She was scared every time my boyfriend or I entered the room.” The couple took turns spending twenty minutes each hour teaching the fearful kitten that they were there to give her food, love and attention. On the second day, she began playing, and by two weeks later, she had free roam of the apartment. Now she’s the queen of the castle.
“As Luna has gotten more bold, she has also gotten very talkative, Megan says. “My boyfriend and I crack up because she has a very raspy meow and sounds more like an old man than the tiny kitten she is!” Though she is still easily startled, Luna has adjusted wonderfully. “She is learning how to just relax and be taken care of, rather than fight to survive. It’s been very rewarding and extra sweet to see her be affectionate, and I know I made the right choice with my little Luna.”
Chicken Scratch is an ASPCA Blog feature that highlights interesting news about farm animals and farm animal welfare.
A new investigative piece by online media company Fusion brings us behind the normally closed doors of America’s chicken industry, thanks to one fed-up farmer. The six-part series, which can be viewed here, reveals the inhumane, unhealthy conditions that define modern poultry factory farming deeply affect farmers as well as birds. “Producers” like Craig Watts disagree with the way they are forced to raise chickens, but fear of retribution by the big poultry companies has kept them silent—until now.
When Fusion investigative correspondent Mariana Van Zeller enters one of Watts’ poultry sheds for the first time, she is struck by its size and the stench of ammonia. As Watts says, the math is easy enough: 30,000 birds in a 20,000-square-foot shed means each bird has less than one square foot of floor space. With nowhere to move and fast-growth genetics that leave them struggling to carry their own weight, many birds develop raw, open sores on their undersides from languishing in their own waste.
These conditions are designed for maximum profit for the poultry companies, but they have profound consequences on the well-being of animals and the farmers. The poultry industry estimates a 3-5% mortality rate in broiler chickens on farms. That means more than 260 million birds die before they go to slaughter each year.
Although large poultry companies set the birds’ living conditions and have created crippling breed traits, it’s the farmers who are responsible for culling the sick and deformed animals. When Van Zeller asks Watts how he feels having to euthanize so many birds every day, he responds that it is “disheartening on two levels. One, having to do this to a live animal. And two, that I know it’s going to hurt me financially.”
The ASPCA is committed to improving the lives of chickens raised on farms across this country. If you are concerned about this issue and want to request that products from healthier, more humanely raised animals be sold in your local stores, take action at TruthAboutChicken.org today.