Massachusetts bill would include animals in domestic orders of protection

A letter to the editor appearing Sunday in the MetroWest Daily News included information concerning a legislative bill in Massachusetts that “would allow judges to include companion animals in orders of protection, giving the petitioner exclusive custody, care, and control over the animal, and/or ordering the abuser to stay away from the pet, triggering a violation of the restraining order if unheeded.”

The writer rightfully explains an abusing spouse, for example, will at times attempt to hold power over their victim by threatening or doing harm to a beloved family pet. Fearing for the pet’s safety, the victim might remain with the abuser, remain silent about the abusive behavior or return to the home.

Linda Huebner, the deputy director of advocacy for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) also notes Maine, New York and Vermont are among the states that already include pets domestic violence orders.

Here’s hoping all states will move to pass similar legislation this year.

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