Friday, August 4, 2006

Including Pets in DV Orders

Maine has passed a new law giving judges the power to include pets in protective orders in domestic violence cases. Saving Fido, ABA Journal eReport, Aug. 4, 2006.

A supporter estimates that 70% of the victims of domestic violence also have their pets threatened. Lawyer Anne H. Jordan, a former prosecutor and now a member of Maine's Animal Welfare Advisory Council, says that threatening to harm pets is a classic intimidation technique -- and often keeps victims of domestic violence from leaving their abusers for fear that a beloved dog or cat would be killed. Vermont, New York, and Illinois are considering similar legislation.

Since 2001 Maine has had a program -- a collaboration between an animal shelter and a domestic violence shelter -- to provide foster homes to pets of domestic violence victims.

See also

Now, I thought I'd throw in a link to the new law. That should be easy enough, right? But this turned out to challenge my research skills.

The answer is: It was Legislative Bill 1881, signed by the governor March 27, 2006, Public Law, Chapter 510. What made finding it so hard was that the bill does not use the terms "protective order" or "domestic violence." The new provision was included in a bill with various other animal welfare provisions. And the only language that links it to domestic violence protective orders is the citation of the code section it amends -- 19-A M.R.S. section 4007 -- which now includes the phrase "N. Directing the care, custody or control of any animal owned, possessed, leased, kept or held by either party or a minor child residing in the household." You have to go to 19-A M.R.S. sec. 407 to find that A-M are subsections listing what can be in a DV protective order. Geez, it shouldn't be that hard to find a recent bill that's been in the news.

Thanks to Mary Hotchkiss for sending me today's story from the ABA Journal eReport.

Update: See also Law Shields Pets from Domestic Violence, USA Today, Aug. 23, 2006.

Update (March 14, 2007): Legislator Wants to Open More (Doggie) Doors to Courthouse, Recorder (, March 2, 2007.

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Graphic by mw.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting on this important issue! Other states are following Maine's lead, including New York, which recently passed a similar bill. There are also bills in New Jersey and Illinois.

For a little analysis of the Maine bill, check out this post at my animal law blog, Hounded, Cowed, and Badgered.