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Blogs and Stories

July 3, 2020
Amy Wade Carotenuto

Safeguarding Pets
from Domestic Violence

On July 1st this year a Florida law went into effect pertaining to Domestic Violence Injunctions. This law ensures that family pets can be included in orders of protection from domestic violence. The law will help protect vulnerable people and their pets across Florida.

The staff and volunteers at Flagler Humane Society worked with our friends at ASPCA and The Humane Society of the United States to promote the importance of this legislation in Florida and we would like to thank Governor DeSantis as well as Sen. Albritton, Rep. Killebrew, and Rep. David Silvers, for their sponsorship. Special thanks to our own local Rep. Paul Renner, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, who helped ensure the bill passed.

With this new law, Florida joins more than 30 other states who have enacted meaningful public policies to safeguard both humans and pets from violence in the home.

Too often, those living in an abusive situation do not seek safety out of fear for what may happen to their pets. Research shows that nearly 90% of pet-owning women who enter domestic violence shelters report that their abusers threatened, harmed, or killed a family pet.

Abusers threaten to harm family pets as a control mechanism. Abusers punish their victims by injuring or killing beloved pets, often in front of the children. This behavior can cause the child to grow up to be an animal abuser, because that is what they have learned.

The new law clarifies that judges may name pets in domestic violence protective orders much in the same way that children and other family members can be named into such restraining orders.

If a survivor’s pet is included in a protective order, their abuser can be ordered to stay away from not only the survivor, but the animal as well, or risk facing the legal consequence of a criminal charge.

Many domestic violence shelters are beginning to be built so that family pets may be housed on the same property as the families.

During these times of uncertainty and heightened stress, it’s encouraging that Florida state leaders recently took an important step to help people and pets living in abusive situations. With an increase in financial hardships and the coronavirus quarantine, experts are concerned that we will see a rise in domestic abuse. This law helps ensure that pet owners in crisis can more readily find safety for themselves, their children and their pets.

More Reading on this issue:

People Magazine

ASPCA Press Release

My News 13 - Orlando

Palm Coast Observer

Orlando Weekly

Sun-Sentinel