Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Domestic Violence and the Family Pet

A Bill introduced in the state of Washington, HB 1148, would protect animals from domestic violence. The introduction to the Bill states:

The legislature finds that considerable research shows a strong correlation between animal abuse, child abuse, and domestic violence.  The legislature intends that perpetrators of domestic violence not be allowed to further terrorize and manipulate their victims, or the children of their victims, by using the threat of violence toward pets.


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I publish the Maryland Domestic Law Report and enjoy your blog very much. So I wanted to add that Maryland lawmakers introduced a similar bill which had a hearing on Feb. 21 in Annapolis, Md. The bill, HB 901, is titled "Cruelty Toward a Pet or Service Animal" and authorizes a district court judge, when issuing a 7-day ex parte interim protective order in a domestic violence case, to order a respondent to "remain away, refrain from cruelty or aggravated cruelty toward the pet or give the pet to the petitioner, a family member or a third party." Violators are charged with a misdemeanor and can be fined up to $1,000 and 90 days on a first offense and $2,500 and one year in jail for all other offenses.

According to my research, 10 states have these kind of laws already. The AHA says 71 percent of battered women report their attacker also threatened, harmed or killed their pet. Up to 50 percent delay leaving because of fear the attacker will harm the family pet. In Maryland, some shelters for victims of domestic violence even offer safe havens where pets can be cared for temporarily. This is the third year in a row that this bill has been introduced in Maryland.

Posted by: Brad Kukuk | Mar 6, 2009 1:04:27 PM

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