ASPCA Commends Gov. Snyder for Signing Bill to Protect Pets of Domestic Violence Victims

H.B. 4478 will allow domestic violence victims to keep their pets safe during crises
May 18, 2016

NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) applauds Michigan lawmakers and Gov. Rick Snyder for enacting H.B. 4478 to help Michigan’s families and companion animals by giving judges the legal authority to include pets in protective orders for victims of domestic violence. Gov. Snyder held a bill signing ceremony yesterday, and the new law takes effect immediately.

“It is a sad and unfortunate reality that many victims of domestic violence are forced to make the impossible choice between leaving an abusive situation and ensuring their pet’s safety,” said Vicki Deisner, Midwest legislative director for the ASPCA. “This new law will help keep people and their pets together during times of great distress, and the ASPCA thanks Governor Snyder for signing this critical bill to provide more protections for Michigan families.”

Research shows that 71 percent of pet-owning women entering domestic violence shelters report that their abuser threatened, harmed or killed a family pet. Even more concerning is that as many as 25 percent of domestic violence survivors have reported returning to an abusive partner out of concern for their pet. Despite the frequency and severity of this problem, only a small percentage of domestic violence shelters across the country accommodate pets.

“The inability to flee an abusive relationship places domestic violence victims, their children and pets at a much greater risk of emotional and physical trauma, and even death,” said Deisner. “The ASPCA thanks Representative Kosowski for his strong leadership on this legislation, which encourages victims to seek help and gives them the security they need to escape a dangerous environment.”

Twenty-nine states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have enacted laws that include provisions for pets in orders of protection. To expand existing federal domestic violence protections, U.S. Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Gary Peters (D-MI) and Reps. Katherine Clark (D-MA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) introduced the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act. The PAWS Act amends the Violence Against Women Act’s interstate stalking provisions to make crossing state lines to injure pets a punishable offense. It also adds veterinary care to the list of restitution costs that can be recovered by victims, establishes a federal grant program designed to help domestic violence victims safely house their pets, and expresses a recommendation by Congress that states should include pets in protective orders.

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