States Strengthen Safeguards for Domestic Violence Survivors and Pets

Several states have added new protections for domestic violence survivors and their pets, bringing to 37 the number of states that allow for the inclusion of pets in domestic violence protection orders or include animal cruelty in the definition of domestic violence. Rhode Island law now allows family courts, in issuing protection orders, to provide “for the safety and welfare of all household animals and pets.” An existing provision in Indiana’s law that included beating an animal without justification in its definition of “domestic or family violence” was broadened to cover “abusing” generally. A new Utah law added “aggravated cruelty to an animal, with the intent to harass or threaten” another household member to its definition of domestic violence. And courts in Wyoming may now issue protection orders granting to the petitioner sole possession of any pet kept by the petitioner, the respondent, or minor child “for the purpose of protecting the household pet.” The order may also prohibit the respondent from “abducting, removing, concealing, or disposing of the household pet.”

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