Wednesday, May 23, 2007

SJ-R.COM - Senate approves bill to protect pets in domestic abuse cases


SJ-R.COM - Senate approves bill to protect pets in domestic abuse cases

House Bill 9, which passed the Senate on Tuesday, isn’t aimed only at curbing animal abuse, said Sen. William Haine, D-Alton, who sponsored the legislation in the Senate.

“Many of these acts are not only cruelty to animals, but they’re directed as part of an effort of domestic violence against someone who’s gone to court for an order of protection or seeking a divorce or whatever,” he said. “Frequently the pets are a target in order to direct stress and terror against the person who’s brought the petition.”

As Madison County state’s attorney for 14 years, Haine said, “we saw several situations where family pets were destroyed - killed - by people who were using them as a way to commit domestic violence against their boyfriend or girlfriend.”

The legislation allows a judge to order the person named in the order of protection to “stay away from the animal and forbid (him or her) from taking, transferring, encumbering, concealing, harming or otherwise disposing of the animal.”

It was supported by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, along with the Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

A news release the ASPCA issued after the vote said 71 percent of pet-owning women in domestic violence shelters reported that a family pet had been threatened, injured or killed by their abuser.

“Victims of domestic violence should never have to fear for their pets’ safety when making the decision to leave a violent situation,” Ed Sayres, president and CEO of the ASPCA, said in the statement.

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