Lupardo Raises Awareness of Orders of Protection for Pets

Animal cruelty often related to domestic violence

Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D-Endwell) announced today, as part of Domestic Violence month, that a measure she co-sponsored last year allows New Yorkers to obtain an order of protection for their pets. The law now protects companion animals from abuse, often related to domestic violence.

“Court orders have provided protection for spouses, significant others and children in domestic violence cases,” said Lupardo. “This law helps us to protect our pets, who for many of us, are an integral part of our families.”

Domestic violence experts indicate that many abusers have threatened to harm, assault and even kill animals as a form of abuse and control. Last year’s law allows family courts to include companion animals under the provisions of a court order of protection (Ch. 253 of 2006). The measure prohibits the intentional injuring or killing, without justification, of any companion animal that the subject of the court order knows to be owned by the victim.

Facts about Animal Abuse & Domestic Violence from the American Humane Association:

  • 71% of pet-owning women entering women’s shelters reported that their batterer had injured, maimed, killed or threatened family pets for revenge or to psychologically control victims.
  • 68% of battered women reported violence towards their animals. 87% of these incidents occurred in the presence of the women, and 75% in the presence of the children, to psychologically control and coerce them.
  • Between 25% and 40% of battered women are unable to escape abusive situations because they worry about what will happen to their pets or livestock should they leave.
  • In one study, 70% of animal abusers also had records for other crimes. Domestic violence victims whose animals were abused saw the animal cruelty as one more violent episode in a long history of indiscriminate violence aimed at them and their vulnerability.
  • For many battered women, pets are sources of comfort providing strong emotional support: 98% of Americans consider pets to be companions or members of the family.

Such statistics have compelled some legislatures to take action. Last year, New York, Vermont and Maine passed laws extending protective orders to animals. According to the American Humane Association, six additional states have adopted measures of their own this year and several others have bills under consideration.