ASPCA Urges Florida Gov. DeSantis to Sign Bills to Protect People and Pets

State lawmakers pass lifesaving bills to protect survivors of domestic violence and their pets and provide emergency sheltering for people with pets
March 11, 2020

TALLASHASSEE – The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) commends Florida lawmakers for passing critical measures protecting people and pets during the 2020 legislative session. The measures approved by state lawmakers include H.B. 241/S.B. 1082 Domestic Violence Injunctions, which clarifies existing law to ensure that family pets are included in orders of protection from domestic violence, and S.B. 752/H.B. 705, which requires every county that maintains designated shelters to provide a shelter that can accommodate people with pets during emergencies. These bills now head to the desk of Gov. Ron DeSantis for his signature.

“Research has shown that 71 percent of pet owners entering domestic violence shelters report that their abuser threatened, harmed, injured or killed a family pet,” said Jennifer Hobgood, senior director of state legislation for the ASPCA, Southeast Region. “Clarifying a judge’s ability to include pets in temporary restraining orders will better protect survivors of domestic violence, and we are grateful to Senator Albritton and Representatives Killebrew and Silvers for their leadership on this issue. We respectfully ask Governor DeSantis to sign this bill into law to ensure that survivors of domestic violence and their pets can escape harm’s way.”

More than 30 states have laws allowing pets to be included in orders of protection from domestic violence, and a recent poll from Mason-Dixon revealed that 83 percent of registered Florida voters support H.B. 241/S.B. 1082. The bill also had strong support from state law enforcement agencies, including Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey, who appeared in a video alongside his dog, Junny, to support the bill. Bradenton Police Chief Melanie Bevan and retired Police Chief Frank Fabrizio also appeared in a video alongside House sponsor Rep. Sam Killebrew supporting the legislation.

During the 2020 legislative session, state lawmakers also approved S.B. 752/H.B. 705, requiring every county that maintains designated emergency shelters to accommodate persons with pets in emergency situations.

“Emergencies come in many forms, often with little warning, and can require anything from a brief evacuation to a lengthy absence from home. Establishing an emergency response plan before disaster strikes is critical to protecting animals and the people who risk their lives to save them,” said Hobgood. “This bill expands sheltering opportunities for people with pets who are displaced during a natural or manmade disaster and we thank Senator Aaron Bean, Representative Killebrew and Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz for their leadership on the issue, and we hope that Governor DeSantis will swiftly sign this bill into law.”

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