Law adds protections for abuse victims’ pets
Pontiac — New bipartisan legislation signed into law last month is expanding existing federal protections for the pets of domestic violence survivors.
U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, DBloomfield Township, made a stop at Pontiac’s Haven women’s shelter recently to speak on the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act. The shelter opened its Farber Family Pet Center in 2017, allowing survivors to be near their pets for their stay at Haven and removing the fear of violence against them if they’re left with an abusive partner.
The law adds protections for the animals of survivors including threats or acts of violence against the pet and will help to provide additional resources for shelters across the country to open facilities similar to Haven’s, the Oakland Press reported.
“A person who has a pet at home, that pet could be used as a weapon against them. It’s absolutely unacceptable that someone should feel trapped (out of fear for safety of their pet). This needs to become a model for shelters across the country,” Peters said.
On average, survivors of domestic violence will remain with an abusive partner for an additional two years due to the fear of violence against their pets, studies have shown.
Tracy Thompson, a domestic violence survivor, said she wishes something like the Pet Center existed when she left her ex-husband. Upon her escape, she took her pet cat Sable with her.
“I knew the type of person he was, he might have killed her. It’s so important for places like this at Haven to be established,” Thompson said.
“To be able to keep pets with them at all times, it’s going to be make it so much easier for survivors to make the decision. My cat lived a happy life for 16-years, instead of being tortured and used as a threat against me to make me come back.”