Virginia Holds Key to Passing PAWS Act


None needed at this time.


We anticipate reintroduction of this bill in the 115th Congress. 


Photo by Chad HorewdelDear Humanitarian,

As a constituent of US Representative Robert Goodlatte, you have a unique and very important role to play in getting the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act, H.R. 1258, through Congress. Rep. Goodlatte is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which has joint jurisdiction over the PAWS Act. If it doesn't get out of that committee, then it is unlikely to get out of Congress; it's that simple. So it is urgent that you contact Chairman Goodlatte and ask him to cosponsor H.R. 1258 and move the bill from his committee to the floor of the House for a vote.

Victims of domestic violence fear not only for their own safety, but also for that of their companion animals. Having no safe place for their beloved pets is a reason many victims will not leave their abusers—lest the pet left behind fall victim to retaliatory violence. The PAWS Act helps to remove that roadblock.

When there is violence in the home, it can be directed at everyone—spouse or partners, children, elderly family members, and companion animals. Abusers are well aware of the bond between their victims and their pets, and they exploit that bond to frighten, control, manipulate, and even "punish" their human victims. A number of surveys bear the grim statistics:

  • As many as 48 percent of the battered women reported they had delayed leaving a dangerous situation out of concern for their companion animals' safety.
  • Between 49 percent and 86 percent reported that their pets had been threatened, harmed, or killed by their partners.
  • 85 percent of domestic violence shelters indicated that women coming to their facilities spoke of incidents of pet abuse.

H.R. 1258 would help programs provide shelter and housing assistance for the companion animals of victims of domestic violence. It also takes the crucial step of including pets in federal law pertaining to interstate stalking, protection order violations, and restitution, and urges states to allow pets to be included under protection orders (as 31 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have already done).

Clearly, if shelters and other service providers can help domestic violence survivors find a safe place for their companion animals, they will be better able be to bring everyone to safety. The PAWS Act will greatly increase their capacity to meet these critical needs.

Help Domestic Violence Victims Get Their Pets to Safety

What You Can Do:
Congress will be back for a short lame duck session after the election, so it is urgent that Rep. Goodlatte hear from you now. Please contact him and ask him to cosponsor H.R. 1258 and move the bill from his committee to the floor of the House.

You can call Rep. Goodlatte at 202-225-5431; identify yourself as a constituent and ask that he cosponsor H.R. 1258 and report it favorably from the Judiciary Committee. Or send him an email using AWI's Compassion Index by clicking here.

Be sure to share our Dear Humanitarian alert with family, friends, and co-workers who also live in Rep. Goodlatte's district and encourage them to write, too! As always, thank you for taking action on behalf of the animals.


Nancy Blaney
Senior Policy Advisor

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