Monday, February 23, 2009

House passes Williams’ bill safeguarding pets from domestic violence disputes

The state House of Representatives today passed HB 1148, approving a measure brought forth by Rep. Brendan Williams after hearing compelling and heartbreaking stories of pets caught in the middle of abusive domestic violence disputes.

If passed by the Senate and signed into law, Rep. Williams’ bill would grant someone who seeks a domestic violence protection order sole custody of any pets and apply the same distance boundaries to the animal(s). Violating the protection order, as well as any violence perpetrated against the protected pets would be a gross misdemeanor.

Williams, who has a master’s degree in criminal justice, cited studies showing that criminal deviancy toward animals often evolves into deviancy toward humans – and pointed out that pets are frequently used as instruments of manipulation by abusers to further terrorize, and control, their victims and children. “A pet is at least as valuable as a hairbrush,” stated Williams, who noted that pets are not expressly among those personal effects victims can presently remove from domestic violence situations.