ASPCA Commends Ohio Lawmakers for Passing Bill to Protect Pets of Domestic Violence

S.B. 177 will allow domestic violence victims to keep their pets safe during crises
December 10, 2014

NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today applauds Ohio lawmakers for passing S.B. 177, which will help Ohio’s families and companion animals by giving judges the clear legal authority to include pets in protective orders for victims of domestic violence. The bill now heads to Gov. John Kasich to be signed into law.

“Too often, victims will not flee an abusive situation if they have to leave a pet behind, unprotected,” said Vicki Deisner, Midwest legislative director for the ASPCA. “No one should have to make the impossible choice between escaping an abusive situation and ensuring their pet’s safety. The ASPCA urges Governor Kasich to quickly sign this bill into law to address this pervasive problem and protect Ohio families and their pets.”

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, as many as 50 percent of domestic violence victims remain in abusive situations for fear of what would happen if they left their pets behind. 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 Senators Michael Skindell (D-Cleveland) and Jim Hughes (R-Columbus), and Representatives Michael Stinziano (D-Columbus) and Marilyn Slaby (R-Copley) for their diligent efforts to pass this legislation as it will encourage victims to seek help and give them the security they need to escape a dangerous environment.”

Twenty-seven U.S. states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have enacted laws that include provisions for pets in orders of protection, and earlier this year, the U.S. Congress introduced federal legislation to expand existing federal domestic violence protections to include pets of domestic violence victims. The Pet and Women Safety (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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