Flagler Humane Society helps affect legislative change to protect animals

Article featured in The New Barker Dog Magazine

Cowering dogAs our nation responds to the COVID- 19 pandemic, reports of increasing rates of domestic violence have surfaced across the country, including Florida. Thankfully, a new lifesaving law (SB 1082), signed by Governor DeSantis, went into effect on July 1, 2020.

"This law now makes it clear that courts may include family pets in tem­porary restraining orders, and we thank Governor DeSantis for signing this bill to help domestic violence survivors and their pets reach safety," said Jennifer Hobgood, senior director of state legislation for the ASPCA, Southeast Region.

Staff and volunteers at Flagler Humane Society in Palm Coast worked with the ASPCA and The Humane Society of The United States to promote the importance of this legislation in Florida. "We would like to thank Governor DeSantis as well as Senator Albritton, Representative Killebrew and Representative David Silvers for their sponsorship," wrote Amy Carotenuto in a letter to the editor of The Daytona Beach News-Journal, "Special thanks to our own local Representative Paul Renner, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, who helped ensure the bill passed," added Carotenuto, who is the executive director for the Flagler Humane Society.

Florida now joins 30 other states who have enacted similar policies that safeguard humans and pets from violence in the home. The Florida law allows judges to name pets in domestic violence protective orders much in the same way that children and other family members can be named into restraining orders.

"Too often, those living in an abusive situation do not seek safety out of fear for what may happen to their pets," said Carotenuto.

Seventy-one percent of domestic abuse survivors reported that their partner had implicitly or explicitly threatened the pet as a way to maintain power. More than 50 percent of pet­ owning women entering domestic violence shelters reported that their abusers threatened, harmed or had killed a family pet.

Children who are exposed to domestic violence are nearly three times more likely to treat animals with cruelty than children who are not exposed to such violence (Source: Currie, 2006)Animal cruelty committed by children is often symptomatic of future abuse toward other animals or people.

Only 10 percent of domestic violence shelters in the country allow animals and have pet-friendly on-site facilities for families with pets. This leaves pet owners with the difficult decision to leave their pet at home or stay in an abusive household to be with their pet.

For a list of domestic violence shelters in Florida that are pet friendly, go to SafePlaceforPets.org

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