Florida is on the way to passing two bills which hopefully become law to allow judges to grant orders to directly protect companion animals in the unhappy circumstances of domestic violence.
In the UK we call them ‘injunctions’. The same applies to the USA. Typically they are orders against one party in domestic violence proceedings which prevents that party from contacting or communicating with the other abused party. Bill SB 241 of 2020 is described as ‘Domestic Violence Injunctions; Authorizes court to take certain actions regarding care, possession, or control of animal in domestic violence actions‘. SB 1028 is described as ‘Domestic Violence Injunctions; Authorizing a court to take certain actions regarding the care, possession, or control of an animal in domestic violence injunctions, etc.‘.
The introduction to SB 1028 reads…
An act relating to domestic violence injunctions; amending s. 741.30, F.S.; authorizing a court to take certain actions regarding the care, possession, or control of an animal in domestic violence injunctions.
The video is useful in explaining the background:
Essentially HB 241 and 1082 (of 2020) amend existing legislation to allow judges to grant injunctions against an individual (and make associated orders) to protect an animal in the same way that they can issue injunctions to protect a person. My interpretation of the law is that they allow a judge to treat companion animals as having similar rights to people in cases of domestic violence.
It is a great step in animal welfare in Florida which is following in the footsteps of 30 other states which already have the facility to make these orders.
We know that about 40% of women delay leaving an abusive relationship because they fear their companion animal may be harmed or they won’t see them again. It is an example of how people relate to companion animals as family members. Also 71% of women entering domestic violence shelters say that their abuser had threatened or harmed the family’s companion animal.
P.S. I have deliberately referred to ‘companion animals’ and not ‘pets’. The word ‘pets’ is too condescending. It is not helpful in the quest to improve animal welfare.
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