The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has brought to attention a serious issue that affects both humans and animals alike: domestic violence. According to their petition on Care2, one-third of victims of domestic violence delay leaving their situation because of fear of what the abuser may do to their animals. With the majority of these victims reporting that their abusers also targeted or even killed their pets, this fear is a traumatic reality.
According to the petition, only three percent of domestic violence shelters in the United States accept pets. With the majority of U.S. homes having a dog and/or cat as companion animals, this means too many women or men, and children are either forced to part with their beloved animals or feel they have to stay in an abusive situation in order to avoid parting with their pets. Some victims even live out of their cars and choose homelessness over having to relinquish their animals to a shelter. This should not have to be this way.
Luckily, the HSUS has a solution, but they need our help to make it become reality. According to HSUS, the Pet and Women Safety Act (PAWS) will “expand domestic violence protections to include pets and provide resources for victims to safely shelter pets from abuse.” The PAWS Act will also provide grant funding to domestic violence shelters who do accept animals, in addition to including any vet bills as part of restitution payments. Thirty-two states already have pet protection order laws in place that safeguard pets under restraining orders filed against domestic abusers. However, legislation must be made at the national level to further strengthen these laws protecting these victims.