Under the bill, abused women seeking temporary restraining orders against abusive husbands, boyfriends and fathers of their children could ask a Family Court judge for custody of a pet, even if the abuser owns the pet.
“It’s something I feel we’ve needed for years,” said Nancy Barton, executive director of Sistercare, an organization that offers a variety of services for battered women and their children in the Columbia area. “We hear from women who say, ‘I need to leave, but if I do, I know he’ll kill my dog or my cat.’”
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 71 percent of pet owners entering domestic-violence shelters report that their batterer had threatened, injured or killed family pets.
Maine, New York and Vermont have enacted legislation to strengthen domestic-violence protective orders to include pets.
The bill being considered in South Carolina would apply to all kinds of pets, including horses and livestock.
[...]“If there’s anything we can do to help lower the barriers that prevent women from seeking help, let’s do it,” [Vicki] Bourus [director of the S.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault] said. “We’re not reaching enough of them as it is. Many of them just won’t leave those pets. And think of how helpless an animal is in the hands of an ill-intended person.”
Nationally, an increasing number of shelters for abused women have added kennels or created animal foster care programs in an effort to protect victims.
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If you are a SC resident, contact your representative to voice support for House bill 3117:Sponsor: Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter
SC House of Representatives