Pet Restraining Order Passes
August 03, 2012
As part of the Commonwealth’s commitment to ending domestic violence, we must continue to listen to the experiences of survivors when it comes to understanding the many obstacles they face in trying to leaving a relationship with an abusive person. Seeking safety for a family pet is just such an obstacle for many victims.
The original "Pet Retraining Order" bill was sponsored by Sen. Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville) and later combined with legislation supported by the MSPCA and other animal welfare advocates. Under this new law, the court will be able to order possession of the pet to the plaintiff and order the defendant to refrain from abuse of the pets.
The "Pet Restraining Order" recognizes that adults and children experience emotional connections with their pets. In fact, family pets are very often considered as members of the family or close companions. It can be devastating to see harm come to them. Such fear of harm of one’s pets can and does prevent victims from escaping abusive situations. One study found that up to 48% of battered women will not leave or will return to a violent relationship due to fear of what might happen to the animal if left behind.”
The link between animal cruelty and human violence is well documented:
- In one study, 71% of pet owners entering domestic violence shelters report that the abuser had threatened, injured or killed family pets.
- Another study found that 87% of batterer-perpetrated incidents of pet abuse were committed in the presence of their partners for the purpose of revenge and control.
 Ascione, FR, Weber, CV & Wood, DS (1997). The abuse of animals and domestic violence: A national survey of shelters for women who are battered. Society & Animals 5(3), 205-218.
 Quinlisk, JA (1999). Animal Abuse and Family Violence. In, Ascione, FR, Arkow, P., Eds: Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, and Animal Abuse: Linking the Circles of Compassion for Prevention and Intervention. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, pp. 168-175.