On April 11, 2006, CNN ran this article written by
Associated Press staff writers. I think this is benchmark
legislation and would like to see horse owners get involved in promoting
a bill of this sort in their own states.
It isn't only the pets of abused women who are at
risk. There have long been numbers to support the claim that animal
abuse performed by children is directly correlated to violent crimes when those
children grow up. Here in Utah, it was determined at one time that over
87% of the violent crimes inmates had abused animals as children. I
applaud those women who stay and bear the abuse so that they can protect
2-legged and 4-legged children.
Domestic Abuse Protection Extended to Pets
Tuesday, April 11, 2006;
Posted: 10:02 a.m. EDT (14:02 GMT)
Measure aims to help pet
owners leave abusive relationships
Susan Walsh and her dog. Walsh told Maine legislators how
a previous pet dog was killed by her husband.
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) --
Spurred by growing evidence of a link between domestic violence and
animal abuse, Maine has enacted a first-in-the-nation law that allows
judges to include pets in protection orders for spouses and partners
leaving abusive relationships.
helping pets, advocates hope to help battered women and others who
aren't willing to abandon their animals to get out of a bad
a very innovative, new approach, and it makes perfect sense because the
protection order is a critical stage for women and others seeking
protection," said Nancy Perry of the Washington, D.C.-based Humane
Society of the United States.
Baldacci says the law, which provides for civil penalties such as fines
or jail time for those who violate a protection order, should give pause
to abusers who might resort to violence or threats against pets as a
means of keeping their victims from leaving a relationship.
enforcement officials, animal welfare agents and advocates for domestic
violence victims say it's not unusual to hear of abusers who vent their
rage against a partner's pet.
just another tactic to keep power and control over the victim," said
Cindy Peoples of Caring Unlimited, a shelter in York County.
Walsh, whose dog and sheep were killed by her husband, said many victims
stand to benefit from including pets in protection orders.
heard so many horror stories from other women that I knew I was not
alone," she said.
to pack up a barn full of animals'
bill came up for consideration at a public hearing in January, Walsh
recounted how she remained in an abusive marriage in part out of fear
for what might happen to her pets and farm animals if she left.
said her husband shot two of her sheep inside their Ellsworth barn.
Another time, when she was visiting her parents in Pennsylvania, he
deliberately ran his truck over her deaf and blind border collie in
their driveway, she said.
who stayed in the marriage for more than 12 years before her divorce in
2001, said she would have left sooner had it not been for her
responsibilities to the animals.
kind of hard to pack up a whole barn full of animals," she said. "And I
knew that any animal I left behind would be dead in 24 hours."
was an outgrowth of a seminar by the Maine State Bar Association in June
on the connection between animal abuse and domestic violence, said Anne
Jordan, a Portland lawyer who serves on the Animal Welfare Advisory
informal discussion after the presentation, a judge raised the idea of
expanding the scope of protection orders, Jordan recalled.
Legislative support was overwhelming, said the bill's sponsor, Rep. John
Piotti, a Democrat. He and others cited a study that found that 71
percent of pet-owning women in a Utah shelter said their abusers had
either harmed, killed or threatened their pets.
states recognize link
Maine's law is unique, other states have statutes that reflect the link
between domestic violence and animal abuse. Laws in California,
Connecticut, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio and Tennessee encourage
cross-reporting among agencies involved in law enforcement, domestic
violence, child protection and animal control, Perry said.
welfare agents already have been looking at ways to help potentially
endangered pets whose owners are in abusive situations.
growing trend is called safe havens. These are cooperative agreements
between shelters for women and shelters for animals," Perry said.
agencies in Maine participate in a program called PAWS -- Pets and Women
to Safety -- that arranges confidential placement of animals in foster
care so their owners can move into a shelter knowing that their pets
will be safe.
Animal Welfare Society in Kennebunk has a PAWS program that works with
Caring Unlimited. "They've worked with all kinds of pets and farm
animals," Peoples said, "from cats and dogs to horses and exotic birds.”