Back in June, Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed the bill, SB 1082, which effectively became a law on the 1st of July. The new law gives judges the power to include pets in restraining orders against domestic abusers, as well as allows pets to stay with their owners who are victims of domestic abuse.
This is a huge move, as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal (ASPCA) shared in a statement that it would mean Florida has become one of 20 other states who are showing concern for both pets and their owners in the face of violence at home. The ASPCA has also released research that suggests one in four victims of domestic violence have returned to their abusive situations out of fear for their pets’ safety.
Adding to these horrific stats is the fact that 71% of domestic abuse victims have reported their partner either implicitly or explicitly threatened their pet as a means of control over them. And more than 50% of pet owners who were women fleeing abusive situations and taking refuge at shelters, disclosed that their abusers either threatened, harmed, or killed a family pet.
Jennifer Hobgood works as a senior director of state legislation for the ASPCA’s Southeast Region. She released a statement that said, “Under normal circumstances, adults, children, and pets living in an abusive home often face major obstacles to escape harm’s way. Unfortunately, the necessity of staying at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has made this situation substantially more dangerous for both people and pets.”
She further added that ever since the pandemic forced a lot of lockdowns and quarantines, there has been an increasing number of reports surrounding domestic violence – Florida being one of the areas. Hobgood reiterated the importance of the new law as it now explicitly includes pets as protected under restraining orders. This is all one step closer to helping victims of abuse, as well as their pets, escape bad situations, and hopefully move forward to a better life together.
According to media outlet News13, the executive director of Florida’s Flagler County Humane Society, Amy Carotenuto, stated that the new law will hopefully be a game-changer.
Carotenuto explained, “People won’t have to hide, people can come forward, include their pet in their restraining orders and hopefully get some help. It’s really exciting to be a part of making that kind of difference not only in Flagler County but across Florida.”
Hopefully by including pets in protections from domestic violence, victims will find it easier to escape their situations when they’re able to bring their pets with them. If you or someone you know is facing a situation of domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls made are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is 24/7 and available in more than 170 languages.
Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.
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