Save Animals from Harm in Domestic Disputes

domestic violence pets

Target: Governor Nikki Haley

Goal: Enact a law protecting pets in domestic violence disputes

It’s a heartbreaking trend that judges and police officers see every day- pets hurt and killed in domestic violence disputes. In most of the US, there is no legislation that protects the pets of domestic violence victims. However, studies show that victims’ pets are often the first ones targeted by abusers.

Maine resident Susan Walsh told legislators that she wanted to take her two children and leave her husband, but she was afraid for her animals. Walsh lives on a farm with her dogs, cats, and various farm animals. Her husband would viciously attack or kill one of the animals when Walsh would try to end the relationship. He had run over, shot, and attacked her dogs, sheep, and turkeys.

This scenario is all too common- so common in fact that organization are starting to allow victims of domestic violence to bring their pets to shelters with them. Thankfully, Maine governor John Baldacci signed a bill that would include animals in protection orders. Maine is the first state to enact such a law.

In 2013, South Carolina was ranked 1st for women murdered at the hands of men. Since domestic violence likely played a role in many of these cases, South Carolina legislators must work to eliminate opportunities for abusers.

Encourage South Carolina to adopt Maine’s new law and protect victims and their pets from abusers.


Dear Governor Haley,

In 2013, South Carolina reported  that 2.5 women per 100,000 were murdered by males. This is more than double the national average. Since it is likely that many of these deaths were cases of unthwarted domestic violence, South Carolina should be doing more to protect victims and block opportunities for abusers.

One study showed that among domestic violence victims, 54% said that their abuser had threatened or harmed their pets. Thus incidents of domestic violence and animals abuse frequently go hand in hand.

When animals are not included in protection orders, abusers can continue manipulating their victims without consequence. Even if victims are covered by a protection order, the abuser still has other opportunities to torment the victim. Pets are the most common route, as victims care much more for them than for their other belongings. Animals must be eliminated as a potential tool of manipulation if the domestic violence crisis is going to improve.

Please propose a bill that would protect not only victims in protection orders, but their animals as well.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Kaz via Pixibay

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