Congress Introduces Bill to Help Victims of Domestic Violence and Their Pets

February 21, 2017


Animal cruelty and domestic violence are often linked—and when pets become pawns in domestic disputes, victims can delay seeking help and remain in dangerous environments because they fear for the safety of the pets they are forced to leave behind.

We are pleased to report a strong bipartisan leadership team in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate has come together to introduce important legislation that would provide new federal protections to domestic violence victims and protect their pets from the hands of abusers.

The Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act would prohibit abusers from crossing state lines to harm a domestic partner’s pet, and adds veterinary care to the list of restitution costs to be recovered by victims. It would also authorize much-needed federal grant funding to provide assistance and housing to victims’ pets in need of emergency shelter. Despite an urgent need, currently only 3% of domestic violence shelters nationwide are able to accommodate victims’ pets. 

The new federal protections offered by the PAWS Act would help victims and their pets escape abusive environments and seek the safety and shelter they need. Thirty-two states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have already passed laws allowing pets to be included in protective orders.

Representatives 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) join Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Dean Heller (R-NV) in reintroducing the PAWS Act in the 115th Congress. We are thankful for their strong leadership in taking this important step in the fight against animal cruelty and domestic violence.

We need your help! Please visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center today to encourage your U.S. representative and senators to help victims of domestic violence and their pets by cosponsoring the PAWS Act.