Demand Steeper Penalties for Animal Abuse

Target: Janet Petersen, Iowa Senator

Goal: Protect companion animals from domestic violence.

According to the Animal League Defense Fund, “abusers of animals are five times as likely to harm humans” and, “children in violent households, who have likely been abused themselves, represent one-fifth of domestic animal cruelty cases.” In fact, a child that intentionally harms an animal has likely been the direct receiver of abuse or has witnessed abuse. An abuser is likely to threaten to hurt or kill the family dog if the partner leaves the relationship.

Most domestic violence shelters do not allow pets to be brought in. This makes it difficult for victims to simply remove a companion animal from an abusive home. This policy intends to protect both the animals and the residents from potential injury or infestation of fleas and ticks, for example. This challenge could be relatively simple to solve with a foster system in place for pet care while victims reorganize their lives. According to the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, up to 65 percent of victims delay leaving a dangerous relationship because they fear for and have no place or means to protect their companion animal.

A legislative challenge is the laws themselves. According to the Animal Rescue League of Iowa (ARL), “Iowa ranks 49th in the nation for the effectiveness of its animal cruelty laws.” The ARL suggests improvements to clarify definitions, enhance penalties in severe cases, require mental health evaluations in severe cases and address the link between animal abuse and violent crimes. Sign the petition below to ask that politicians step up to protect animals from domestic violence.


Dear Senator Janet Petersen,

Thank you for your past support of bills that increase the protection of victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Through research, experts have been able to show a clear correlation between violent crimes and animal cruelty. In fact, statistics show that in homes where domestic violence and child abuse exist, animal cruelty is also present. One of the ways that we can increase protection for companion animals is to clearly emphasize the link between these social issues.

According to the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, up to 65 percent of victims delay leaving a dangerous relationship because they fear for a companion animal. Drafting a bill that allows judges the discretion to add companion animals to restraining orders in domestic violence cases will enhance the likelihood of early victim intervention and decrease animal cruelty incidents.

Many of these bills die on the floor of the house and senate because of agricultural lobbyists who fear that any increase in animal rights will directly effect how agriculture in Iowa is done. We demand our legislators support bills that protect our companion animals in cases of domestic violence and child abuse and support steeper and more appropriate penalties, such as mental health evaluations, for those who abuse and neglect companion animals.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Isaiah J. Soliz

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  1. A minimum of 5 years should do the trick!

  2. Do to them what they do to the animals!!!

  3. Animal abusers are violent criminals, violent criminals deserve jail time. This is one dangerous criminal do not let this freak out to ra free. What if they get a job at a daycare caring for your four or six month old child? I want to know who these criminals are, they should have a brand on their forehead!!! How would you feel if this idiot lived next you? Well they live next to some poor innocent unsuspecting folks! Is that fair to them???

  4. Thank you for that bit of information about just WHO are some of the people opposing this legislation – AGRICULTURAL LOBBYISTS!
    They are afraid that at some point THEY will become the targets of such legislation and they will be forced to become accountable and have to stop their EGREGIOUS and HORRIFIC CRUELTY toward the poor animals they use and abuse for profit. Very telling!! They are defending their right to animal cruelty in their horrible businesses!
    I think these lobbyists should be banned, kicked out of there. Why should anyone listen to these animal abusers??


  6. Barton Dixon says:

    “If a man aspires towards a righteous life, his first act of abstinence is from injury to animals.” Albert Einstein
    “Compassion for animals is intimately connected with goodness of character; and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man.” Authur Schopenhauer

  7. I have just been reading that our government(UK) are looking at a 5year sentence for abusers of animals☺

    Great news!

    I hope now that other countries take animal abuse seriously too!

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  • Gayle Petersen
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