The Pets and Women Safety (PAWS) Act – To Make It Easier for Women Domestic Abuse Victims Who Have Pets to Have Access to Domestic Violence Shelters
by E. Grinberg
(CNN)Up to one-third of domestic violence victims in one study [PDF format] said they delayed the decision to enter a shelter out of concern for their pets’ welfare. But, according to some estimates, only about 3% of domestic violence shelters nationwide can accommodate pets.
A new bill signed into law by President Trump on Thursday aims to change that.
The Pets and Women Safety (PAWS) Act was passed with bipartisan support as part of the farm bill — legislation that addresses a wide range of areas, including farming, nutrition, conservation, trade, energy and forestry.
Lawmakers and advocates say PAWS aims to protect victims of partner violence. Research shows that abusers inflict violence on pets as a way to intimidate or exert control over their partners.
“No one should have to make the choice between finding safety and staying in a violent situation to protect their pet,” said Democratic Caucus vice chair and Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, who co-sponsored the bill.
“This law empowers survivors with the resources to leave a dangerous situation while being able to continue to care for their pet. I’m grateful for the partnerships we’ve formed between organizations working to end both domestic violence and animal abuse. Together, we will help save lives.”
….The act expands federal domestic violence protections to include protections for the pets of domestic violence victims. It creates a federal grant program to help domestic violence programs assist clients in finding shelter for their pets when they leave their abusers.
Some shelters provide onsite housing for animals, such as separate kennels or facilities where clients can stay with pets; or, they help clients find foster homes or safe havens during their stay, said Nancy Blaney, director of government affairs for the Animal Welfare Institute, which supported the legislation.
But need for pet sheltering options exceeds demand, she said. Often, victims will stay with an abusive partner to avoid being separated from their pets when sheltering options are not available.
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