Law adds pro­tec­tions for abuse vic­tims’ pets

The Detroit News - - METRO - BY NATALIE BRODA Oak­land Press

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.”

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