Texas Senator Wendy Davis “stands up” for pets too
“Pets in Protective Orders” law protects domestic violence victims
and provides assurances to save pets from potential abuse and death
JULY 8, 2013 – A new law offers protections for domestic violence victims…and Texas has Senator Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) (of filibuster fame) to thank yet again. The Pets in Protective Orders bill, introduced by both Representative Jodie Laubenberg (R-Collin) and Senator Davis, ensures domestic violence victims can seek needed help and shelter without fear that their companion animal will be harmed or taken away from them by the abuser. “There is a close link between domestic violence and pet abuse,” says Patt Nordyke, Executive Director for Texas Federation of Animal Care Societies. “Pets in Protective Orders gives judges another tool with which to protect humans in dangerously abusive relationships. Often the person being abused is afraid to take refuge because the abuser has threatened to abuse, maim, or kill the family pet. The law ensures that pets can be included in protective orders, giving the victim the assurances needed to leave the abusive situation.” According to Nordyke, animal shelters have long been willing to work with domestic violence agencies by caring for victims’ pets, but they are unwilling to make this information public for fear of retribution from the abuser. This law gives both the victim and animal shelters some protection should the abuser demand their pet back. The bill has been introduced in four legislative sessions since 2007. It passed in 2011, “but failed to have an appropriate enforcement component, according to county and district attorneys,” says Nordyke. Recent changes to the language in Senate Bill 555 passed on a consent vote in the Senate, merged with the house bill, and will became law September 1. “We are thrilled to finally have this as law in Texas,” says Nordyke. “No longer will domestic violence victims need to stay in an abusive situation because they are worried about threats to their pets. It’s a law that ensures the safety of both people and animals.”
About the Texas Federation of Animal Care Societies
The Texas Federation of Animal Care Societies provides educational training and resources through state conferences and operations consultations with animal welfare agencies as well as supports legislative efforts and programs that promote animal protection and care.
Background and Purpose of
Pets in Protective Orders Bill
There is a close link between domestic abuse and pet abuse and pet protection orders would ultimately give judges another tool with which to protect humans in dangerously abusive relationships. In a New York Times article from 2007, pets were described as “the forgotten victims of domestic violence and abusive relationships.”
Often the person being abused is afraid to take refuge because they will be forced to leave their companion animal(s) behind and subject the animals to physical abuse, death or being maimed by their abuser. This law will go a long way to stop that and will encourage abused spouses, children and the elderly to seek needed help and shelter without fear that their companion animal will be harmed or taken from them. Their animals are often the only solace and emotional support they have in a very difficult situation, but in order for
Purpose OF SB555
It prohibits a party from removing a pet, companion animal or assistance animal, as defined by Section 129.002, Human Resources Code, from the “actual or constructive care” of a person named in the order” from harming threatening or interfering with the care, custody, and control of a pet, companion animal or assistance animal, as defined by Section 121.002, Human Resources Code, that is possessed by or is in the actual or constructive care of a person protected by an order, or by a member of the family or household protected by an order. SECTION 3. Section 25.07, Penal Code, is amended by adding Subsection (a-1) to read as follows:
(a-1) For purposes of Subsection (a)(5), possession of a pet, companion animal, or assistance animal by a person means:
(1) actual care, custody, control, or management of a pet, companion animal, or assistance animal by the person; or
(2) constructive possession of a pet, companion animal, or assistance animal owned by the person or for which the person has been the primary caregiver.
While this bill reads Pets in Protective Orders it is really a people bill!