PAWS Act on Positive Track

On September 18, AWI joined other animal protection organizations in co-hosting a briefing by the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus for staff of members of the US House of Representatives on the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act (HR 1258/S 1559). Both co-chairs of the Caucus, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA), appeared at the briefing, as did the primary sponsors of the House bill, Reps. Katherine Clark (D-MA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). Rep. Clark spoke powerfully about the need for the bill and shared a personal story from her district of the often deadly relationship between animal violence and human violence. Equally moving was Caroline Jones, president and CEO of Doorways for Women and Families, a domestic violence shelter in Arlington, Virginia, that can now accommodate pets. She recounted the evolution of her organization’s realization that the inability to house pets meant turning away many victims who came to them for help. Even though Doorways has a relationship with the Animal Welfare League of Arlington for temporary safekeeping of these pets, Jones said they found that many women refuse to part with their companion animals. AWI’s Nancy Blaney gave staff an overview of the problems presented by the lack of resources for domestic violence survivors who have pets, and introduced a video by Allie Phillips, who works with shelters that want to provide on-site housing for animals. A number of new House co-sponsors were added as a result of the briefing, and support continues to grow in both the House and Senate.

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