The Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act aims to protect domestic violence survivors and their companion animals.
“When a woman who has been victimised makes a decision to protect a beloved pet, she is not a victim, and that’s important”
“No one should have to make the choice between finding safety and staying in a violent situation to protect their pet,” said Democratic Caucus vice chair and Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, who co-sponsored the bill.
A new federal law, the Pets and Women Safety Act (PAWS) has been passed as part of the farm Bill (a very large piece of legislation). This legislation addresses a wide range of issues. The law empowers victims of domestic violence to leave a dangerous home while being able to continue to care for their companion animal.
We are told that one study found that one third of domestic violence victims delayed a decision to go into a shelter because of a concern for their companion animal’s welfare. This is because they were unable to take their companion animals with them because it is estimated that only about 3% of domestic violence shelters take in companion animals.
The Act creates a federal grant program designed to assist victims in finding a shelter for both themselves and their companion animal after they have escaped their abusers. The Act is designed to significantly increase the capacity of organisations providing accommodation to victims of domestic violence and their pets which empowers abused women to leave abusive homes.
Nancy Blaney, director of government affairs for the Animal Welfare Institute, said that some shelters provide housing for animals on site in separate kennels or facilities. Alternatively some shelters help victims find foster homes for their companion animals. We know that many cat owners would do anything to protect their companion animal in situations of domestic violence. This can often result in a woman remaining in an abusive home in order to protect her cat when it would have been better for her to have moved out with her companion animal.
The goal of the new legislation is to support the building and operation of new or existing animal shelters and housing. We are told by click2huston.com that the grant program supports short-term shelter and housing assistance such as expenses incurred for the temporary shelter boarding or fostering of the companion animals of domestic violence victims.
The new law also includes companion animals in federal law concerning interstate stalking, protection order violations and restitution. These provisions allow law enforcement to better protect victims from their abusers.
P.S. Sometimes men are the victims of domestic violence at the hands of woman. We must be careful to avoid stereotypes although the vast majority of cases concern men abusing women.