Missouri To Allow Restraining Orders To Protect Pets Of Domestic Violence Victims

A new bill just passed in Missouri that grants added protection to domestic violence victims, including protecting their pets.

Bill SB 71 will allow judges to add pets to protection orders issued for domestic violence cases.

Previously, judges could issue protection orders for a person involved in a domestic abuse situation, but not for their pet(s). This could sometimes put animals in dangerous situations where abusers would use the pet(s) against the victim, or neglect/abuse a pet due to mental health or behavior issues. But thanks to the new bill, that’s about to change.

Photo: PXHERE

Beyond providing protection for animals involved in domestic abuse situations, the bill also includes added protection for human victims as well. Under the bill, judges can grant longer restraining orders and allow the orders to automatically renew, rather than having the abuse survivors reappear in court to pursue an extension.

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For someone with a restraining order against them, they would need to show “proof of treatment and rehabilitation” in order to have the order lifted early or to stop the renewal. They would also need to demonstrate that they no longer pose a threat to the victim.

Photo: PXHERE

The bill reads:

“Under this act, if the court finds, after an evidentiary hearing, that the respondent poses a serious danger to the physical or mental health of the petitioner or a minor household member, the protective order shall be valid for at least two years and not more than ten years.

The full order may be renewed annually for a period of at least 180 days and not more than one year from the expiration date of the previously issued order; except, in cases where the court finds the respondent poses a serious danger to the petitioner or a minor household member, then the order may be renewed periodically and shall be valid for at least two years and up to the life of the respondent.”

Photo: PXHERE

The bill has been agreed upon by lawmakers and send to Gov. Mike Parson for final approval. If signed into law, the changes will go into effect on August 28, 2021.

According to The Missouri Times, a sponsor of the bill, Republican Sen. Elaine Gannon, said, “Victims of domestic violence should not have to live in constant fear of their abuser’s retaliation, their beloved pet being harmed or having to re-appear in court multiple times to renew the same order of protection.”

If passed, this bill may save victims who would otherwise return to their previous situations out of concern for a pet. The ASPCA reported that 25% of domestic violence survivors reported returning to an abusive partner because of fear or concern for a pet.

Photo: PXHERE

They further reported that one-third of domestic violence survivors hesitated to leave and seek help because of a pet. What’s more shocking is that, “Research indicates that up to 89 percent of pet-owning women entering domestic violence shelters report that their abuser threatened, harmed, or killed a family pet.”

Currently, 35 states have legislation that protects pets in domestic abuse situations, according to Michigan State University. It’s time that more states enact laws to protect pets in domestic abuse situations.

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