A bill that would include animals in domestic violence
restraining orders unanimously passed the New Jersey Assembly and will head to the State Senate for approval.
“We’ve heard so many stories of pets being abused or even killed as retaliation against a partner when a relationship goes sour,” said Assemblywoman Connie Wagner, who co-sponsored the bill with Assemblyman Reed Gusciora. “Often times it’s done without thinking as an attempt to hurt the other partner, but whether it’s intentional or not, animals should not have to suffer. This is a humane measure designed to protect innocent pets from being the victim of a domestic dispute.”
The bill would allow a judge to issue a restraining order limiting a defendant charged with a crime or offense involving domestic violence or who is released from custody, from having any contact with any animal kept by either person, or minor, involved in the case.
It also lets the court decide who the animals will live with.
“For many pet owners, a pet is a member of their family. To harm or even kill a defenseless pet simply to get back at a partner is cowardly and cruel,” said Gusciora. “No animal deserves to be mistreated or abused, especially out of revenge. This will protect pets caught in the middle of a domestic dispute from potentially dangerous situations.”
Currently, animals are not addressed as part of New Jersey’s domestic violence law.
You can read the full bill on the State Legislature’s website.