H.R.909 – Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act of 2017

Did you know the House of Representatives is considering a “Pet and Women Safety” (PAWS) Act? It was introduced to the House floor on February 7, 2017 and is sponsored by Congresswoman Katherine Clark of the 5th District of Massachusetts. 

This bill, if passed, would allocate (grant) funding to help assist families with pets displaced by domestic violence and it’s goal could be accomplished a number of different ways. Funding would allow domestic violence shelters to house pets with their families (where possible), create foster home partnership programs to safely shelter pets while families seek housing, arrange partnerships with local animal shelters, etc. These kinds of programs could give domestic violence victims one less reason to stay with their abuser. The bill proposes that $3,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2017 through 2021 be allocated for this use. Domestic violence shelters, animals shelters, community groups, and other eligible non-profit orgnaizations could apply for grant funding, and would have to meet criteria outlined in the bill.

You can follow the progress of the bill here: H.R.909 – Pet and Women Safety Act of 2017

Press release on Congresswoman Katherine Clark’s official web site:

“U.S. Representatives Katherine Clark (D-MA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Rick Nolan (D-MN), Jeff Denham (R-CA), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Mimi Walters (R-CA), along with 176 colleagues in the U.S. House reintroduced the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act, bicameral, bipartisan legislation to protect victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and dating violence from emotional and psychological trauma caused by violence against their pets. Multiple studies have shown that domestic abusers often seek to manipulate or intimidate their victims by threatening or harming their pets, but according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), only three percent of domestic violence shelters across the country accept pets. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Dean Heller (R-NV) led the reintroduction of the legislation in the U.S. Senate.”

Link: http://katherineclark.house.gov/index.cfm/press-releases?ID=6132005C-75D1-407B-BC55-C99C3AC65ED9

Relevant statistics on domestic violence and animal abuse:

52 percent of victims in shelters leave their pets with their batterers (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence)

Up to 65 percent of domestic violence victims are unable to escape their abusers because they are concerned about what will happen to their pets when they leave (Carlisle-Frank, Frank and Nielsen, 2004)

71 percent of pet-owning women entering women’s shelters reported that their batterer had injured, maimed, killed or threatened family pets for revenge or to psychologically control victims; 32 percent reported their children had hurt or killed animals (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Isn’t it time that “We The People” stand up for domestic violence victims, their children, and their pets? Shouldn’t we support their efforts to flee abuse and help keep them safe while they rebuild their lives?

Please contact your Representatives and Senators, and urge them to support H.R.909 – Pet and Women Safety Act of 2017! Write letters, send emails, make phone calls! 

Educate others by sharing this information!

REPRESENTATIVES:  Find Your Representative

SENATORS:  Contact Your Senator

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While we wait for the PAWS Act to become law, domestic abuse victims with pets can seek help from programs that currently exist:

The Humane Society’s directory of Safe Havens for Animals programs includes a state-by-state listing of pet-friendly shelters.

Animal Safety Net is a program offered by spcaLA. While domestic abuse victims seek the help and housing they so desperately need, ASN will care for their pets at no charge.

The Pets and Women to Safety program at the Animal Welfare Society provides free, confidential foster homes for pets belonging to victims of domestic violence who are in transition.

Additional help is just a phone call away: American Humane Association (303-792-9900) and National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE).

Currently, 32 states and D.C. and Puerto Rico to date (2016) have enacted legislation that include provisions for pets in domestic violence protection orders. Rebecca F. Wisch from the Michigan State University College of Law has published a comprehensive list here: Domestic Violence and Pets: List of States that Include Pets in Protection Orders. Domestic Abuse victims that live in these states need to be informed that their pets may be included in their protection orders when they seek assistance to flee their abusers. We can help by widely sharing this information.  

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