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The PAWS Act: Protecting Women and the Pets They Love

Introduced in March 2015 by Rep. Katherine M Clark of Massachusetts, The Pet and Women Safety Act (H.R. 1258) is just beginning its journey to becoming a law that could potentially save lives, and help countless victims of domestic violence, regardless of gender.

It’s a little-known piece of legislation that is getting a big push from MiLLENNiAL Magazine. With animal rights advocate and editor-in-chief Britt Hysen at the helm, the magazine hopes to bring attention to an often-overlooked cause.

New Jersey animal advocate Adriana Meucci took an in-depth look at the problem in the June 10th issue of MiLLENNiAL. What she found was a problem that was serious beyond expectation. She learned that nearly half (48%) of victims of domestic violence stay in abusive situations longer than they otherwise would have out of fear of leaving their pet. And it’s a justified fear: the numbers show that abusers often harm or kill a pet when their victim escapes to a shelter.

The PAWS Act would increase emergency shelter for the pets of domestic violence victims, allowing them to leave with their pet and make sure their pet is safe. Just as importantly, the PAWS act would offer legal protection to pets in domestic violence situations. Threatening a pet would be a crime, states would be encouraged to include pets when a victim is granted a protection order, and abusers would be required to pay financial compensation for any injury that they cause to a pet.

In states that include pets in protection orders, an abuser would be subject to arrest if they approached the pet, something that would offer more peace of mind for victims and help them and their pets move forward with their lives.

As of June 15, PAWS Act (H.R. 1258) has the bipartisan support of 83 US Representatives. To support the Act, which has yet to pass the House and Senate, advocates should contact their State Legislators via the Animal Welfare Institute’s Contact form, or by contacting their representative directly.

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