ASPCA Urges Indiana Gov. Holcomb to Sign Bill to Protect Pets of Domestic Violence Victims

S.B. 323 will allow domestic violence victims to keep their pets safe during personal crises
April 5, 2017

NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is urging Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb to sign S.B. 323, a civil procedure bill which was amended to include language that gives judges the legal authority to include pets in protective orders for victims of domestic violence.The amended bill passed the House on March 20, but had to go back to the Senate for concurrence, and now heads to the desk of Gov. Holcomb for his signature.

“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. “The ASPCA commends Indiana lawmakers for approving this critical bill and we urge Governor Holcomb to swiftly sign S.B. 323 into law to expand protections for Indiana families and ensure people and their pets can stay together during times of great distress and peril.”

Research shows that over 50 percent of pet-owning women entering domestic violence shelters report that their abuser threatened, harmed or killed a family pet. Even more alarming is that as many as 25 percent of domestic violence survivors have reported returning to an abusive partner due to 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.

“Pets play a critical role in the safety of domestic violence victims, whose inability to flee abusive relationships places victims, their children and pets at a much greater risk of emotional and physical trauma, and even death,” said Deisner. “The ASPCA thanks Senator Vaneta Becker for her strong leadership on this legislation, which encourages victims to seek help and gives them the security they need to escape a dangerous environment.”

If S.B. 323 is enacted, Indiana will join the 32 other states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, who have passed laws that include provisions for pets in orders of protection. In February, U.S. Sens. Gary Peters (D-MI) and Dean Heller (R-NV), and Reps. Katherine Clark (D-MA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Rick Nolan (D-MN), Mimi Walters (R-CA), Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Jeff Denham (R-CA) introduced the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act to expand existing federal domestic violence protections. 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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