Ohio Joins 29 Other States to Protect the Family Pet Against Domestic Animal Abuse with New Protection Order
On June 28, 2014, we published an article about S.B 177, an Ohio Bill that was introduced in August 2013 that would amend domestic protection order laws to allow your furry friend to be included. The legislation became a reality when Governor Kasich signed it into law on Friday, December 19, 2014.
The ASPCA had urged Governor Kasich to quickly sign this bill into law to address this pervasive problem and protect Ohio families and their pets. “Too often, victims will not flee an abusive situation if they have to leave a pet behind, unprotected,” said Vicki Deisner, Midwest Legislative Director for the ASPCA. “No one should have to make the impossible choice between escaping an abusive situation and ensuring their pet’s safety.”
The court may now include within the scope of a protection order issued under this section any companion animal that is in the complainant’s or alleged victim’s residence and may issue additional orders as it considers appropriate for the protection of the companion animal, including any listed in division (D)(1) of this section.
This new added language grants courts the power to protect a victim’s animal from abuse. This became a hot issue recently with 71% of women who entered battered or abuse shelters reporting that their batterer killed, injured, or was abusive to their companion.
The new law will grant judges the ability to order a multitude of protections regarding pet abuse. This may seem silly and excessive to some, but to pet owners this is long overdue. The court may include within the scope of protection order issued under this section any companion animal that is in the complainant’s or alleged victim’s residence and may issue additional orders as it considers appropriate for the protection of the companion animal, including any of the following:
- An order directing the alleged offender to refrain from abusing, threatening, injuring, concealing, disposing of, or interfering with the care, custody, and control of a companion animal that is in the possession of the complainant or the alleged victim or the alleged offender or that is owned by the complainant or the alleged victim;
- Remove a companion animal from the possession of the alleged offender;
- An order permitting the complainant or the alleged victim to return to the residence to remove a companion animal from the possession of the alleged offender;
- An order prohibiting the alleged offender from having any contact with the companion animal;
- An order directing law enforcement to assist in the safe removal of a companion animal from the possession of the alleged offender.
This new language is very broad. Not only can a judge now order the removal of a companion animal, but can deprive an alleged batterer from seeing the animal or having any contact with the animal. An alleged batterer wouldn’t even be able to threaten the companion animal. Essentially, the law establishes a restraining order for the pet.
The passage of this law is not only a great step for animal and pet owner rights, but also for domestic rights. There are many ways an abusive person can torment a victim. The physical abuse is only one part of the dilemma; the mental part is a harder issue. Now that pets can be safely secured, one prong of abuse has been lifted.
More Information About Animal Pet Protection Abuse Laws
Earlier this year, the U.S. Congress introduced federal legislation to expand existing federal domestic violence protections to include pets of domestic violence victims. The Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act amends the Violence Against Women Act’s interstate stalking provisions to make crossing state lines to injure pets a punishable offense. It also adds veterinary care to the list of restitution costs that can be recovered by victims, establishes a federal grant program designed to help domestic violence victims safely house their pets, and expresses a recommendation by Congress that states should include pets in protective orders.
Note that 29 other states (as well as D.C. and Puerto Rico) to date have enacted legislation that includes provisions for pets in DV protection orders. To read about those States including a brief explanation of their animal pet protection law and a link to the statute citation, click here.
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Robert L. Mues
Robert Mues is the managing partner of Dayton, Ohio, law firm, Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues, and has received the highest rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability. Mr. Mues is also a founding member of the "International Academy of Attorneys for Divorce over 50" blog.