Animal Protections Enhanced by New Federal Law
By Nicole B. Hampton
January 4, 2019
While overshadowed by the buzz surrounding the 2018 Farm Bill’s legalization of hemp, animal advocates also received big wins under this new law. The new law included the first passage of the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act, which was first introduced in 2014 and expands existing federal protections for domestic violence victims to their pets. Specifically, current statutes that create federal crimes for stalking, harassment, threatening injury, and the like will now extend that criminality to victims’ pets and service animals. It also establishes a grant program to the tune of $3,000,000 per year for the next three years for domestic violence shelters that also assist with safe shelter for victims’ pets (which is currently offered by as few as three percent of domestic violence shelters). Did you know?
- In a variety of surveys of domestic violence survivors, between 49 percent and 86 percent reported that their pets had been threatened, harmed, or killed by their partners.
- Even though intake interviews do not routinely ask about pets, in a national survey, 85 percent of domestic violence shelters indicated that women coming to their facilities spoke of incidents of pet abuse.
- As many as 48 percent of the battered women responding to surveys said they had delayed leaving a dangerous situation out of concern for their pets’ safety. Some survivors have reported living in their cars with their companion animals rather than leaving them behind.
- When getting out necessitates that they relinquish ownership, survivors “report losing an important source of support as they adjust to separation and recover from violence.”
Finally, the bill strengthened the federal prohibitions on dogfighting and cockfighting, as well as made the consumption of dog and cat meat (and the facilitation of the same) illegal nationwide. Advocates expect these provisions to prove influential in lobbying for these acts to be banned globally in the future.
These are exciting steps forward for the protection of animals and their devoted owners! Please give me a call should you ever have questions about your rights with respect to pets or service animals.
Statistics from Animal Welfare Institute’s article here: https://awionline.org/content/pet-and-women-safety-paws-act#_edn2.