How it works:
An order of protection is the states’ way of demanding behavior from parties inside a domestic dispute. This can include staying away from another person, attending counseling, and now, not hurting or killing pets. When abusers do something that the court has ordered them to do, or they fail to do something the court has ordered them to do, they have violated the order.
Why it’s important:
While the ethical and humane treatment of animals is in and of itself a worthwhile cause, many recent studies have also confirmed an important link between animal abuse and domestic violence. Consider:
• Twelve independent surveys have reported that between 18 and 48 percent of battered women have delayed their decision to leave—or have returned to the person who physically abused them out of fear for the welfare of their pets or livestock (Ascione, 2007).
• Children who are exposed to domestic violence are nearly three times more likely to treat animals with cruelty than children who are not exposed to such violence (Currie, 2006).
• Domestic violence-related animal abuse is a national epidemic. In 2004, there were approximately 627,400 non-fatal intimate partner victimizations (U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2006). It is estimated that as many as 71 percent of these incidents included incidents of abuse or death to family pets (Ascione, Weber & Wood, 1997).
Here is a list of states that have included animal inclusion protection in their laws:
Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia
How you can help:
While the passing of such compelling and humane legislation may seem a simple feat, the road to enacting these bills is not a smooth one. In 2010 alone, eight bills were introduced, but only two were passed with four stuck in committees and two voted down. If you are interested in seeing this type of legislation enacted in your state, please contact your local SPCA and find out how you can get involved.
By Sarah Zumhofe