Animals need protection at home as well as in the community, and The HSUS' Dr. Mary Lou Randour writes and speaks on their behalf. A Ph.D. psychologist and author of three books, Randour has also written two handbooks on animal abuse in juveniles and adults.
Randour teamed up with the American Bar Association's Center on Children and the Law to produce a new handbook called "The Common Bond," which explores the link between violence toward animals and violence toward humans.
More than 64 million households in the United States have one or more companion animals, and pets are often part of the family. Most of the time this is for the best, but not all families function well all of the time. When family violence erupts, right beside the threatened spouse and any children are the family pets, cowering under tables, locked in closets or perhaps temporarily rescued by the quick thinking of a family member.
In a national survey of battered women's shelters, 85 percent of shelters indicated that women seeking shelter reported incidents of pet abuse. Up to 48 percent of women delay leaving a dangerous domestic situation because of their fear that their partners will harm or kill the family pet—and they often do.
Legislation To Protect The Whole Family
Once extricated from the danger at home, however, domestic violence victims may continue to be stalked by their estranged partners. To prevent this, protection orders are the legal tool used to extend protection to a woman and her family, which now includes the family pet in three states. Maine, Vermont and New York passed laws that recognize that family pets are important members of the family, permitting pets to be listed on protection orders for domestic violence victims.
More states plan to follow. As of March, 2007, legislatures in 11 states (Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington) and the District of Columbia were considering "pet protection" legislation.