It’s well documented that there is a link between animal abuse and domestic violence, with as many as 85% of women residing in domestic violence shelters reporting that their pet was also harmed by their abuser. Many survivors have also reported that they delayed seeking help because they didn’t want to leave their pet behind.
Still, the fight to pass nationwide legislation wages on—now with support from a coalition of nonprofit and for-profit organizations moving toward the passage of the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act.
The proposed federal bill would better protect domestic violence survivors by offering protection for their pets, too. The bill was reintroduced into Congress in early 2017 but is still awaiting an official vote.
According to the group, there are currently no laws that protect pets of domestic violence survivors. Organizations in the coalition include:
- Nestlé Purina PetCare
- Bayer Corporation
- Human Animal Bond Research Institute
- Noah’s Animal House
- Pet Partners
- Urban Resource Institute (URI)
In May, 2 of the groups within the coalition—Purina and URI, a leading provider of domestic violence shelters in New York City—announced they had partnered to construct the country’s first entirely pet-friendly emergency domestic violence shelter. Located in Brooklyn, PALS Place will be outfitted with 30 apartments designed to accommodate individuals, families, and their pets.
“Up to 65% of domestic violence victims remain in abusive homes out of fear for their pet’s safety,” URI President and CEO Nathaniel Fields said, “and even more women residing in domestic violence shelters reported that a pet was harmed by their abuser.”
Now with bipartisan support in the government, the new coalition is confident the PAWS Act is closer to being passed than ever before.
“Survivors of domestic violence should not have to choose between their safety and a loved one,” Lauren Dorsch, deputy director of communications for Bayer Animal Health, said, “and these shelters make it possible for them to heal in a safe place without saying goodbye to their pets.”