New Ohio law would include pets in protection orders

A bill allowing animals to be included in domestic violence, stalking and other protection orders is on its way to the governor.

The Ohio Senate last week voted 32-0 to agree with House changes to Senate Bill 177, sending the bill to Gov. John Kasich who is expected to sign it into law.

Nearly half of domestic violence victims stay in abusive situations for fear of leaving their pets behind with abusers, according to national studies.

“Too often, victims will not flee an abusive situation if they have to leave a pet behind, unprotected,” Vicki Deisner, Midwest legislative director for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said in a statement. “No one should have to make the impossible choice between escaping an abusive situation and ensuring their pet’s safety.”

Senate Bill 177 would allow judges to order an alleged offender “not remove, damage, hide, harm, or dispose of any companion animal owned or possessed by the person to be protected” or authorize the victim to remove the animal from the offender.

The bill was supported by the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, which found a need for the change when it surveyed domestic violence programs in the state, Animal Cruelty Task Force of Ohio, Ohio Federated Humane Societies, and the Ohio Voters for Companion Animals. Twenty-four other states have passed similar measures.

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