On March 4th, 2015, a bill was filed in the United States House of Representatives that has the potential to protect our furry friends in the most tragic of circumstances, domestic violence. The Pet and Woman Safety Act of 2015 would protect pets defined as any domesticated animal that is not used for commercial reasons from the abusers by:
- Adding pets to those protected under the federal stalking statute—this means the stalker would be subject to fines and/or imprisonment if they through travel, electronic media or other means place another person in reasonable fear of bodily harm or death for them or their pet.
- Include pets as the subject of interstate protection orders.
- Amend the section of restitution owed to the victim to include veterinary services related to domestic violence.
- Create an Emergency and Transitional Pet Shelter and Housing Assistance Grant Program to award grants to eligible entities to carry out programs to provide assistance to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and their pets. The bill provides for $3,000,000 in funding for each of the first four years of the program. This would include things like shelter provisions for animals and veterinary care.
This bill is particularly important because not only does it protect the pets, but many of the pets’ families will not leave a domestic violent situation because they fear harm to their pets. They may also return to a violent situation to save their pets.
The bill, introduced by Congresswomen Katherine Clark of Massachusetts and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida has 48 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle. According to PopVox, a civic engagement platform, 67% of responders are in support of the bill. It has the support of important animal and domestic violence organizations such as the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
Please, support this bill by contacting your congress people. This can be done easily through PopVox (www.popvox.com).
For the AKC’s summary, click here and for the AVMA’s summary, click here. For the actual legislation, click here.