There are many cases in which victims of domestic violence do not leave their abusers, or return to their abusers because they fear that the abuser will take their aggression out on the pets, or follow through on threats that were made concerning the pet. In fact, some statistics show that up to 85 percent of women who reside in domestic violence shelters, reported that their abusive partner also harmed their pet. Abusers often use and carry out threats to harm their victim’s companion animal as a way to gain control over the victim.
The New York Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence recognizes that domestic violence abusers frequently use threats and carry out threats to harm their victim’s companion animal as a way to instill fear in their victims; prevent the victim from leaving; and isolate their victim. As a result, since 2006, companion animals can be included in an order of protection for victims of domestic violence in New York in a criminal court or Family Court. Additionally, on a nationwide level, the FBI has recognized the direct correlation between animal abuse, domestic violence and child abuse. In recent years, the FBI began tracking animal cruelty and collecting data.
More domestic violence shelters are now recognizing the need to house pets and are welcoming pets. A New York City shelter opened last year keeps pets and families together with their People and Animals Living Safely (PALS) program. It is the first type of shelter of its kind in New York City to offer a pet-friendly environment that includes easy to clean floors as well as spaces for companion animals to play and be groomed. Although only three percent of domestic violence shelters nationwide currently are equipped to house pets, a new law aims to change that. Recently passed federal legislation has established a grant program which would provide funding for domestic violence shelters for programs to include the safe shelter of pets—the Pets and Women Safety Act (PAWs) was signed into law in December 2018 as part of the bill known as the Farm Bill.
The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins is available to handle matters concerning Animal Law and Pet Law, Matrimonial, and Family Law throughout New York City, Long Island and Westchester. Call for a consultation at (646) 397-6844. Consultations are by appointment only and can be scheduled in Manhattan or Melville, Long Island for the convenience of clients.
Attorney Advertising. The content herein is not meant to be construed as legal advice, nor form an attorney-client relationship.