For pet lovers, one of the best protections in the 2018 Farm Bill is for pets! It provides protection for abused pets and pets in danger from becoming abused.
Dogs, cats and other pets are often targeted by spousal abusers. In fact, pets are often the reason that abused humans don't leave their abusers. A study in Wisconsin, conducted by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) found that more than two-thirds of domestic violence survivors said their abusers had also been violent toward their pets or service animals.
Other studies show that as many as 25 percent of domestic violence survivors returned to abusive partners out of concern for their pets.
Abused men and women are often afraid to leave their situations because of potential revenge being visited on their pets. Of course, another reason they don't leave may be because their only comfort in life is their cat or dog, and very few domestic violence shelters have accommodations for pets.
But the Pet And Women Safety (PAWS) Act, proposed by U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich, and Senator Dean Heller, R-NV, was included in the Farm Bill which passed both houses of the legislature by large margins, and was signed by the President on December 20, 2018, is now law. The PAWS measure in the law makes it illegal to stalk, strike, or otherwise harm a partner or her pet. Furthermore, it provides grants to shelters that provide accommodations to human victims of domestic violence and their pets. Currently, according to the ASPCA, only 3 percent of domestic violence shelters provide accommodations for pets.
“Survivors of domestic violence should never have to decide between leaving an abusive relationship or staying and risking their safety to protect their pets,” said Senator Peters. “This bill will help ensure more safe havens for survivors and their pets are available - so together they can begin a new chapter in their lives.”
The PAWS Act is supported by the National Network to End Domestic Violence, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the Humane Society of the United States, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, the National Link Coalition, the Sheltering Animals & Families Together (SAF-T) Program, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Animal Welfare Institute, RedRover, the National Animal Care & Control Association, the National District Attorneys Association, the American Veterinary Medical Association, YWCA USA, the American Kennel Club, the Fraternal Order of Police, and the National Sheriffs’ Association.
Read this WikiHow article to learn how to spot and report animal abuse.