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New Texas law aims to protect pets during domestic abuse cases

Pet abuse experts say that human victims of domestic violence will often avoid reporting abuse or seeking shelter because they’re concerned about the fate of the family pet. Abusers will sometimes prevent victims from leaving by threatening to harm a beloved animal. A representative from an El Paso family violence center states that Texas abuse victims often want to leave their situation but feel that their pet would be in danger. Luckily, a new law may prevent abusers from hurting pets or using them as part of a threat.

The new measure gives Texas judges the ability to add pets into protective orders. A spokesperson from an animal care organization in Texas states that efforts to get this law passed have been ongoing for eight years. She goes on to say that her organization is establishing a database of foster care groups and shelters that can temporarily care for any pets whose owners enter an abuse shelter. Knowing that a pet is being protected can bring some peace of mind to domestic abuse victims, and being able to visit the pet can be therapeutic.

People who have been pushing for this legislation say that ideally shelters for domestic abuse would start accepting pets. In San Antonio, a domestic violence shelter is already constructing a private animal shelter on its property. Housing animals at the shelter in El Paso, however, would not be economically viable at this time. Until it becomes possible, the shelter will work to find safe places for the residents’ pets.

Anything that can help a domestic violence victim leave their situation is cause for celebration. If Texas judges embrace the law, it may indeed stop some abusers from using pets as an intimidation tool.

Source:, “Pets get protection in domestic abuse orders” Melissa Gundersen, Jan. 02, 2014

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