Tuesday, March 17, 2009

SC Bill Helps Battered Women and Their Pets

When faced with a crisis, it seems normal to me to cling to our family/loved ones and our home. But when staying at home becomes part of the crisis, some pet owners hold on to their loved ones - including their pets - even more. We saw this during Katrina when some owners refused to evacuate because the shelters would not accept their pets. Lesson learned and many emergency shelters set up during post-Katrina storms allowed pets. The reasons battered women stay in their homes are more complex but similarly, they sometimes don't want to go to a shelter which requires them to leave their pets in a violent home. A South Carolina bill addresses this issue:
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.

Read the full article here and don't miss the comments underneath from Idiot McStupidTalk and Friends.

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


2 comments:

jan said...

Definitely an idea whose time has come. Threatening to kill a woman's pet is a favorite ploy of abusive men. They are seldom given much of a punishment for it and they know it.

mike said...

This is great, I hope other states jump on the bandwagon!