Bill would extend domestic violence

protections to pets

By Caitlin Taylor

Capital News Service

LANSING — Americans take pride in treating their pets like members of the family, animal advocate Beatrice Friedlander says.

Usually this means lounging on the couch with the cat or slipping the dog scraps of food from the dinner table. But in dysfunctional or violent families, Friedlander said, animals that are treated like members of the family can become victims too.

Between 71 and 83 percent of women entering domestic violence shelters reported that their partners also abused or killed the family pet, according to the Humane Society of the U.S.

To increase protections for pets in abusive homes, Rep. Robert Kosowski, D-Westland, introduced an amendment to the state’s domestic violence law. The bill would classify harm or attempted harm to a household animal as domestic violence, and it would use state funding for further animal protections.

Domestic violence law states that local governments and nonprofit organizations may receive state funds to create or maintain a shelter program for victims of domestic violence and their children. Kosowski’s bill includes housing a victim’s animals as well.

Some of the state’s shelters already allow pets including COVE in Ludington.

The proposal would also add veterinary care to a list of services that domestic violence shelters should provide.

If you, or someone you know, is a victim of domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.