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April 16, 2015

New bill would let domestic violence victims escape with pets

Research shows survivors often delay leaving abusive situations because they fear for pets

Domestic Violence Pets
Domestic Abuse Manu Brabo/AP

Congress is considering a bill to help domestic violence victims escape with their pets.

Victims of domestic violence are often faced with many obstacles that can keep them from walking away. One that's been proven, but is often overlooked is leaving behind their animals.

Research by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) shows between 18 and 48 percent of survivors delay vacating abusive situations because they fear their pet would be in danger if left behind."

A new bill introduced by Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Massachusetts) and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida), would help victims escape with their pets.

RH Reality Check, which reported on the bill, called the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act, claims its passage would funnel grant money to help domestic violence shelters accommodate the animals.

Less than 5 percent of domestic violence shelters nationwide house pets, according to John Goodwin, director of Animal Cruelty Policy at the Humane Society of the United States. But a real need exists for more: sixty-eight percent of battered women revealed that abusive partners had also been violent toward pets or livestock; more than three-quarters of these cases occurred in the presence of the women and/or children to intimidate and control them. 

Read the full article here.