Monday, January 25, 2016
Domestic violence: Pets often involved, and often forgotten
And that's a little scary, as there's one place I probably couldn't take her.
Most shelters for domestic violence victims do not allow pets to come along. The victims (Who are often women, so I'm going to use "she." That does not mean men cannot be victims.) are often encouraged to leave all of their possessions behind and to flee to safety when they have an opportunity to do so.
Many of these women choose not to leave simply because they cannot bring their pets with them.
I am not, in any way, in an abusive relationship. But I understand the thinking. If you were living with someone who had no qualms about abusing you, how could you leave your little pet behind with that person? What if the person turned on your pet, since you were gone?
And some abusers specifically target the victim's pet, knowing that the threat of abuse to the pet can keep the victim in line. After enough of those threats, you'd believe that your pet was in danger. You'd feel it in your bones.
At this point, there are little to no protections for women like this. But there is pending legislation that might make a difference.
Recently, I heard about a bill called the Pet Women and Safety Act of 2015. This bill would outline specific legal action women could take if their pets were harmed during the course of domestic violence, and it would provide grants that could allow more shelters to take in pets. This bill does not do enough to stop the issue, but it certainly is a step in the right direction. Right now, according to this website, it's in committee.
Committees can take ages to act on things, and sometimes, bills that are sent to committee die there. But that doesn't mean there's nothing we can do as active members of the animal community. Sinead is pointing to one of the most powerful tools we have.
You can use this website to find your local senator, and use this website to find your local House representative. A call or a letter could be incredible help for women in need. Thanks, in advance, for lending your voice to the conversation.